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Virbhadra for special panel to tackle drug menace in Himachal

The burgeoning narcotic trade in various villages of Himachal Pradesh has seemingly set alarm bells ringing for the government.

punjab Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:39 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times
druf menace,Malana,marijuana

The burgeoning narcotic trade in various villages of Himachal Pradesh has seemingly set alarm bells ringing for the government.

There are over 400 villages across the hill state where marijuana and poppy is grown unabashedly.

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Friday said a high-level committee would be constituted by involving police, education, health, information and public relations, agriculture and horticulture departments to come out with a concrete plan to curb the menace of drugs in the state.

He also directed the forests and revenue departments to ensure that people did not encroach upon government land and cultivate illegitimate cannabis and poppy on it.

While chairing a high-level meeting to review steps being taken to curb drug menace in the state, the CM recommended a separate office of superintendent of police (SP) with a dedicated team to effectively nab drug peddlers and smugglers.

He said urban local bodies and gram panchayats should report any type of illegal cultivation of drugs on both private and government land, adding that focus should be on nabbing kingpins as it had been observed that youths in the age group of 18 to 25 were being lured and hired as couriers for peddling drugs.

Revenue minister Kaul Singh Thakur said a joint campaign would be conducted by the forest and revenue departments to check illegal cultivation of cannabis and poppy on government land.

Industries minister Mukesh Agnihotri laid emphasis on increasing vigilance in the border areas and industrial belts of Baddi and Barotiwala, while stating, “It has been observed that smack, locally known as ‘Chitta’ and poppy husk ‘Bhukki’ is in much use in Punjab and bordering areas of the state.”

Drug trade thriving at solitary villages

Malana village, located in the interiors of Kullu district, which is notorious for its narcotic trade, still remains the nerve centre of drug cartels. Charas extracted from cannabis cultivated in the wild forest of the area is in high demand in the international market.

“Charas grown in Malana costs about `2.5 lakh per kg, while that extracted from other areas is sold for `1.5 lakh per kg in the international market,” said Kaustav Sharma, deputy director, Narcotic Control Bureau.

“Even a simple Google search throws back hundreds of websites hailing the ‘Malana cream’, a charas produced in Malana village,” he added.

Besides Malana, various villages in Kullu, Manali, Chamba, Shimla and Sirmaur are infamous for poppy and marijuana cultivation.

To check the drug trade, the police carry out annual drives to destroy cannabis and poppy plants. In the past five years, the police destroyed cannabis plants on almost 22,000 bighas, while poppy cultivation was destroyed on 6,000 bighas. But the strategy has proved to be ineffective in curtailing the drug menace.

One reason is the shortage of police force in the state. Besides the drug spill over from Punjab in the inter-state border areas has hooked many.

“Opium and its derivatives were mostly seized from the border districts of Una, Sirmaur, Bilaspur and, Baddi and Barotiwala in Solan district. Maximum tablets and capsules were captured from Kangra followed by Una, Baddi and Sirmaur. The police are doing their best to control the drug menace,” said director general of police Sanjay Kuma.

First Published: Sep 11, 2015 20:29 IST