Growing threat of drug addiction


Drug addiction continues to be a major problem in Himachal Pradesh as the administration continues to battle against it. One of the major reasons for drug addiction is the unchecked and widespread illicit cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy on private as well as on government land in several districts of like Kullu, Mandi, Chamba, Sirmour, Kangra and Shimla.

The Narcotics Bureau which is primarily saddled with the job is suffering from acute lack of man power, modern technology and equipments to combat such a massive widely spread network of drug traffickers. A senior official said that the peddlers and drug dealers move on foot among the jungles and mountainous terrain and are very difficult to trace. Sometimes they keep laborers who use ropes to climb up into inaccessible area in the mountain.

Their task basically is reduced to gather information about where illicit farming is taking place, sometime from the satellite imagery from the Narcotics Bureau at the Centre and then go and destroy the produce if it is in a government land or register a case and take the matter to court to get the order for destruction if a private party is involved.

There is hardly any coordination between the different agencies involved in rooting out drug addiction in the state , every department acting in a silo. Foreigners are involved in the illicit drug trafficking but there little co ordination between state authorities and Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO), Ministry of External Affairs.

Actually one of the practical problems being faced by the authorities who are responsible to control drug trafficking is that in Himachal Pradesh it is a social custom to use of cannabis plant in various forms such as making of slippers, baskets, clothing items and also its seeds used as food items. The traditional farmers have a genuine reason to grow cannabis though it has been abused historically.

Unless the government comes out with a comprehensive attractive alternative plan for the farmers (horticulture, high yielding apple) to switch from cannabis to other forms of legal farming, nothing is going to happen by enforcing the law with a heavy hand. The state does not have adequate data to help tackle the problem because no scientific survey showing the extent of drug use, profile of drug users has been done till date .

There is a need for creating awareness regarding drugs and drug addiction among the general public particularly among youth of the state. However once a person becomes a drug addict there should be sufficient and accessible de addiction centre in every district. The state does have these centres but the numbers clearly have to be increased. This is an area where NGOs are already working and more need to work.

The problem unless controlled fast can sap the economy of Himachal Pradesh ruining the health of its people. No wonder the state Governor gave a call recently for an “all out war” against the menace of drug addiction.

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