Visakhapatnam

Drones used to map ganja cultivation areas

Ganja plantations being destroyed by Excise and Police officials in Visakhapatnam Agency.   | Photo Credit: arranged

A major offensive against ganja cultivation was launched jointly by the Police and the Prohibition and Excise Departments in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam and in the last four days the special teams destroyed standing ganja crop in about 102 acres in four Agency mandals.

The Excise department has for the first time used three drones to map the area of cultivation.

“Based on images provided by drones we conducted raids and destroyed the crop,” said Assistant Commissioner of Prohibition and Excise (Enforcement) SVVN Babji Rao.

It is learnt that the department had tried to get a satellite image of the cultivation area and a company from Hyderabad was entrusted with the job. However, as the result was not satisfactory they switched on to drones.

The excise officials with the support of police, revenue and forest department destroyed ganja plantations in about 102 acres in Gudalamveedhi, Samarangi and Kumbidisingi under G- Madugula mandal, Arlada, Tadagiri, Edulagondi and Chikalaputtu areas under Hukumpeta mandal, Boddaputtu, Lingaputtu and Thotalagondi under Paderu mandal and Chidiputtu under Pedabayalu mandal in Visakha agency.

SP Rahul Dev Sharma and assistant commissioner of Excise Department SVVN Babji Rao addressing the media in Visakhapatnam on Monday.

SP Rahul Dev Sharma and assistant commissioner of Excise Department SVVN Babji Rao addressing the media in Visakhapatnam on Monday.   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

“Destruction is just one part of the strategy. We are also focussing on a sustained awareness campaign. Our target is to wean away tribals from growing ganja,” said Mr. Rahul Dev Sharam, Superintendent of Police, Visakhapatnam (rural).

Both the police and Excise officials have deployed teams to inform the adivasis regarding consequences of ganja smuggling and various penal actions under sections of NDPS Act.

“We are holding awareness meets at weekly shandies and also using public address system to hold village square meetings,” said Mr. Babji Rao.

Both police and Excise officials are contemplating using chemical spray at the plantations.

“It is very difficult to engage workers every time and visit places to destroy the crop. So we are chalking out plans to spray a chemical on the ganja plants to kill them and some scientists in the agriculture and horticulture department are working on it,” said Mr. Rahul Dev Sharma.

On how it will be done, he said Excise officials will accompany the combing parties and wherever they come across the plantation, the men carrying the mobile spray will use them. But this is still in the planning stage, he said.

The officials have identified about eight major routes for transporting the dry ganja from the Agency to the plain areas and the level and check and enforcement will be increased on those routes, said Mr. Babji Rao.

“The police have invoked PD Act against 14 ganja smugglers in the last two years and are gearing up to register against five more smugglers. We will also seize properties of smugglers and have already done in the case of U. Babji a smuggler from Koturu Narasingaraopeta in Anakapalle,” said the SP.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 3:21:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/drones-used-to-map-ganja-cultivation-areas/article19711804.ece

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