Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The government has prepared satellite imagery of illegal poppy cultivation in five States and destruction of the crop will begin soon, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Friday. Karnataka, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal were advised to start destruction of illicit poppy, Mr. Chidambaram said presenting the third report of his Ministry in as many months at a press conference here.

He said there was a renewed concern in the government over cultivation of poppy and smuggling of drugs as funds generated from this source were reportedly diverted for financing terrorism. Giving details of the steps taken by the government in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, he said the Ministry had prepared a “100-day action plan” which he approved on February 20. He expressed the hope that the action plan would be achieved substantially and that the next government would build on it. Various initiatives were being taken to strengthen intelligence gathering and the security apparatus. In this context, he said some steps taken by the United States in the wake of 9/11 terror strikes there would be replicated in keeping with the conditions in India.

Acknowledging that the country faced a high degree of threat from terrorism, Mr. Chidambaram said while the last three months were difficult and presented a challenge, the next three months would be more difficult and would present greater challenges.

“Every day we receive information and intelligence on threats to our security. These will only multiply in the run-up to the general elections. The period up to the elections will witness mobilisation of people and greater activity on the part of political workers in every part of the country. They can help us by sharing information with the government on any unusual or suspicious activity,” the Minister said.

Taking a dig at the NDA government, he said 557 IPS officer posts were not filled up between 1998 and 2004. “How did this situation come about? It is a story of neglect which I will tell you some other time.” The situation could not be “repaired” unless urgent and imaginative steps were taken.