Ganja confiscation leads to overcrowding in Odisha jails

90% of under trials lodged in Malkangiri, Jeypore linked to ganja seizure

Published - January 01, 2022 04:51 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Photo used for representational purposes only. File

Photo used for representational purposes only. File

Arrests of people involved in large scale cultivation of cannabis and subsequent transportation of the weed has led to overflowing of prison in Malkangiri, the southernmost district of Odisha.

An estimate says 90% of under trial prisoners (UTPs) lodged in Malkangiri district jail and Jeypore jail in Koraput are linked to detection of commercial quantity of ganja from their possession.

As provisions under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 are stringent, many of the offenders don’t secure bail easily.

In Malkangiri jail, as against the capacity of 314 inmates, the number of prisoners was found to be 818 – 260% of the capacity – by October 31.

Jeypore Town Police station in Koraput district is perhaps among the top police stations across the country under whose jurisdiction highest volume of ganja consignment has been tracked. In the past one year, more than 25,000 kg of ganja, valuing over ₹25 crore, have been seized in 60 hauls in Jeypore.

According to senior police officers, trial of people caught under NDPS Act is a tedious process, for which UTPs stay in jails for a longer period.

“In Koraput, prior to October 31, 2021 against a scheduled accommodation of 739, the prison population was 737. It then became 904 and this included 167 convicts and 737 UTPs,” prison authorities said.

“By December 15, 2021 the UTP population in Koraput had grown from 737 to 869 primarily due to transfer of UTPs from the Malkangiri sub-jail, which in turn was overcrowded,” they said.

Anshuman Dwibedi, the Sub-Divisional Police Officer posted in Malkangiri, said, “when a person is arrested under NDPS Act, we submit chargesheet within six months. Since large quantities of ganja is confiscated from smugglers, the offence is described as grave. They don’t secure bail easily.”

Similarly, hemp plants cultivated on 4500 acres of land have been destroyed during past three months. The value of illicit cannabis plants could be in the range of ₹675 crore.

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