Forest, revenue officials now liable for unchecked cannabis growth

  • Gaurav Bisht, Hindustan Times, Shimla
  • Updated: Jul 20, 2015 17:58 IST

The Himachal police are finding it tough to control the burgeoning drug trafficking in the state’s hilly areas. Changing its strategy the police is now holding forest and revenue officials responsible for neglecting to check wild growth of cannabis sativa on government owned forest land.

Every year during the monsoon season the police department launches a campaign to destroy cannabis grown commercially to extract ‘charas’ (a hashish form of cannabis). climatic conditions in theParvati valley and the Manikaran, Banjar, Malana and Nirmand areas of Kullu district are favorable for wild growth of cannabis. The quality of the ‘charas’ grown in the remote village of Malana is said to be very good. Cannabis growth has led to widespread drug trafficking with ‘charas’ being smuggled from Kullu to the rest of the country as well as to overseas markets.

“There are many factors that contribute to the illegal trade in narcotics, ‘charas’ and poppy in particular. We’ll continue to focus on destroying cannabis and poppy plants and now hold forest and revenue officials responsible for neglecting to check wild growth of the plants on government owned forest land,” inspector general of police (security & crime) Rakesh Aggarwal told this reporter.

The Himachal police headquarters has instructed all district police chiefs to file criminal cases against forest and revenue officials not informing the cops about cultivation of cannabis plants, which have become a source of livelihood for residents of remote areas in Kullu, Chamba, Sirmaur and Kangra in the absence of other crops.

According to conservative estimates about 60,000 kilos of ‘charas’ are produced in various areas with the narcotics trade in the state pegged at a whopping Rs 2,000 crore every year. Not only the locals but members of international drug cartels are also said to be involved in drug trafficking. During their campaigns to destroy cannabis the police have found hybrid varieties of hemp plants that were different from those growing in the wild. According to a survey conducted by the Narcotics Control Bureau nearly 2,500 villages in Kullu, Mandi, Chamba, Kangra, Shimla and Sirmour districts depend on drug money for their livelihood. The scale of the trade can be gauged from the fact that during the past 11 years the police have filed over 5,100 cases under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act and alone seized over 4,300 kilos of ‘charas’.

Initiatives launched by the state government to curb drug trafficking and peddling have so far not produced the desired results. The problem is more acute in the scenic Kullu valley, where hilly areas that lack road connectivity have become breeding grounds for drug traffickers. To avoid anti-narcotics agencies smugglers choose the deep woods to cultivate hybrid varieties of cannabis that have been smuggled from Russia, Nepal and the Netherlands.

No of cases 5192

Charas seized 4306 kilograms

Poppy seized 146.146

Indian arrested 5724

Foreigner arrested 138

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