Visakhapatnam

Action plan to curb ganja menace in Visakha Agency

A view of the truck seized by the Excise Department that has a specially fabricated chamber to smuggle ganja. —File Photo: K.R. Deepak  

In 2015-16, the Excise Department in Visakhapatnam booked 118 cases under the NDPS Act for smuggling ganja or marijuana or cannabis, arrested 279 persons and seized about 16 tonnes of dry ganja. In the last two months the department has booked 10 cases, arrested 19 persons and seized about 3.2 tonnes.

The cultivation and smuggling of the contraband weed from the forests of Visakhapatnam Agency has been on the rise since the last one decade and today it is being run like an organised sector with pan-India presence.

To curb the menace, the Excise Department is preparing an action plan encompassing all aspects ranging from enforcement to awareness and from checks to people-centric approach.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) had come into force in 1985, and the Act empowers all departments such as Excise, Police, Revenue, Drug Control, Narcotics Bureau and Forest, to enforce it.

But over the last few years, it has primarily been the Excise and the District Police that have been the prime enforcers.

“To check the problem, we need a concerted effort from all the departments and the action plan suggests a special task force team that would contain personnel from all the departments,” said Assistant Commissioner Excise Babji Rao.

Awareness

Along with the enforcement, the action plan suggests a sustained awareness campaign. There is a feeling both among the Excise and Police officials that the innocent adivasis who have been lured to take up the cultivation, have to be educated about the consequences.

“We not only need to tell them about the consequences but also show alternate crops that would be economically fetching and risk free. The ganja crop has been economically very successful and to dissuade the adivasis from growing it, we need to show a better economic model,” said Mr. Babji Rao.

The action plan also involves stricter enforcement, binding over of old culprits, hefty fine and longer imprisonment, setting up of more checkpoints, destruction of crops and cutting down the link between the middlemen and the farmers.

It also talks of setting up of a special crack force and quick disposal of cases to infuse a sense of fear.

Both the Excise and the police officials are of the opinion that the number of check-posts should be increased and some of the key posts should be equipped with either fixed or hand held scanners.

“Most of the stuff is smuggled by placing them in specially fabricated chambers in vehicles. With the help of scanners, the detection can be quicker and easier,” said a senior police official.


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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 3:55:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/Action-plan-to-curb-ganja-menace-in-Visakha-Agency/article14412417.ece

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