GoAP on toes as poppy cultivation spikes

ITANAGAR, Jan 20: Poppy cultivation has increased manifold in Arunachal, prompting the state government to take multipronged approaches to tackle the menace, a senior official said.
The state government’s multidisciplinary coordination committee, headed by Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, has decided to form anti-drug squads up to the village level while destruction of poppy crops has also increased, Oli Koyu, state nodal officer of the narcotics cell, said.
Over 4,000 acres of poppy crops were destroyed in the state in 2018-19 while the corresponding numbers in 2017-18 and 2016-17 were 5,000 and 2,500 acres, respectively, he said, quoting Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) reports.
He said over 3,000 acres of poppy crops were destroyed in Namsai district alone in 2017-18.
NCB data says that less than 400 acres of poppy crops were destroyed in the state in 2012-13 while the number shot up to 1,222 acres in 2013-14 and 1,067 acres in 2014-15.
It says that of 2,530 acres of poppy crops destroyed across the country in 2014-15, Arunachal accounts for more than 40 percent.
Koyu said Chowkham and Wakro circles in Namsai district, Hayuliang, Hawai and Chaglagam in Anjaw; Pongsao and Laju in Tirap, and Wakka and Pongsa in Longding district were the most affected by poppy cultivation.
He said the district anti-drug squads will be headed by the deputy superintendents of police and will comprise an executive magistrate, a narcotic and excise inspector, a forest range officer, horticulture and agriculture officers, and police personnel.
Speaking about the nexus between the drug trade and insurgency, Koyu recalled how his vehicle was surrounded by armed militants who shot rounds in the air while he was on the way to destroy poppy crops in Laju circle in Tirap district in 2017.
Koyu said Tirap DC PN Thungon and security forces had rescued him then.
He said that insurgent groups are also involved in the sale of drugs to fund their activities.
Arunachal shares border with Myanmar, which is part of the golden triangle of opium and heroin production with Laos and Thailand.
The state government has taken a zero-tolerance approach towards drug abusers and is also mooting alternative crops for poppy growers in nine of the worst-affected districts, Koyu said.
After learning that several teachers have become drug addicts, the chief secretary has directed the education secretary to evolve a comprehensive action plan to free all institutes from the drug menace, he said.
Five detoxification centres would be upgraded to full-fledged rehabilitation centres, and a meeting would be held in this regard soon, Koyu added.
Cultivation, sale and consumption of opium are offences under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. (PTI)