Drug trade in Punjab: CAG report points to nexus between peddlers, police
In what raises questions on enforcement of the NDPS Act in a period when the SAD-BJP alliance was in power, the report said samples of seized drugs were sent to labs with a delay of 23 to 476 days.punjab Updated: Mar 23, 2018 09:47 IST
Of the 756 accused acquitted by courts in cases of illicit drugs in Punjab in the 2016-17 fiscal period, 532 (nearly 70%) walked free due to deficiencies in testimonies by police officials.This and other details, pointing towards a possible nexus between drug peddlers and police in Punjab, came to the fore as the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) about the state was tabled in the Vidhan Sabha on the third day of the budget session on Thursday.
In what raises questions on enforcement of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in a period when the SAD-BJP alliance was in power — before losing to the Congress in mid-March 2017 — the report said samples of seized drugs were sent to labs with a delay of 23 to 476 days.
It also underlined that the previous government did not seek benefit of Union government assistance — provided to strengthen enforcement capabilities against illicit drug trafficking — until 2014, even though the scheme was launched in 2009.Further, as the scheme’s guidelines said the state-run Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had to submit an action plan for five years split into annual plans, there was further delay. “The NCB prepared the action plan in 2017 after a lapse of three years, and the state government failed to get benefit of budget of Rs 15 crore that was supposed to be sanctioned by the Centre,” read the audit report.
The report also said that adequate equipment for surveillance and even sniffer dogs were not available in the state, and the police department was also not equipped with staff trained to deal with cases under the NDPS Act.No such equipment was installed at exit points or various vulnerable places, such as railway stations and bus terminuses or highways.
Funds for cancer control diverted, care not given
Facts in the CAG report underlined that the Punjab government did not properly implement a cancer control programme being run under the combined aegis of the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancel, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke and the state’s Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Raahat Kosh.
The report for 2016-17 said district action plans were not prepared, and a sum of Rs 2.79 crore was irregularly diverted to programmes for other non-communicable diseases.
Of 14 cardiac and cancer care units in the state, cancer care facility was available only at one, at Bathinda, which too was not yet operational due to non-posting of requisite staff.The report also stated that there was an overall shortage (21-86%) of manpower, and posts of state programme coordinator, district programme officer and district programme coordinator were vacant since 2010-11.