Member of Parliament Dharamvira Gandhi on Wednesday condemned the statement of health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani who had said that the drug taint on Punjab was a deliberate attempt to tarnish the state’s image.
On the International Day Against Drug Abuse at Amritsar recently, Jyani had said, “There is a smear campaign going on against Punjab to tarnish its image.” Gandhi challenged Jyani to prove his claim that only 1.8% of the Punjab population was on drugs.
He said the survey Jyani referred to was conducted by Union ministry of social justice and empowerment in 2015 on opioid users registered in de-addiction centres in 10 districts of Punjab. Gandhi said Dr Ambekar of AIIMS, who supervised the survey, had observed that “the aim was to understand the trend ‘within the addiction circles’; and we found that 73.5% of all drug addicts fall in the 16-40 age group. That’s all. It was not about how many addicts are there out of the total population”.
Gandhi, who stands suspended from the Aam Aadmi Party, said Punjab government has criminally failed to conduct a survey on drug users, which, he said, is necessary to identify causes and then formulate policies to check the evil.
“The allegation of conspiracy is a cover-up to government’s failure,” he said.
He said it was a failure of the health authorities that 1,900 of 2,200 beds at various de-addiction centres in Punjab were unoccupied.
He ridiculed Jyani for his viewpoint that the low bedoccupancy was a sign of few drug users in Punjab.
Gandhi sought an inquiry into the functioning of the government and private de-addiction centres.
He expressed grief at the recent death of two youths in Mansa due to drug overdose.