CAG raps Odisha govt. for weak enforcement in drug trafficking

‘No coordinated strategy, concerted approach by authorities’

Though illegal cultivation of hemp over 9,548 acres were destroyed during the past three years in Odisha, the enforcement agencies managed to arrest only nine persons, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said.

According to a CAG report tabled in the State Assembly on Monday, cultivation of hemp plant has been banned under Section 8 of the NDPS Act, 1985.

The Act provides for immediate arrest and prosecution of drug traffickers involved in this illicit cultivation.

“Hemp plants over 9,548 acres were destroyed from 2014-15 to 2016-17. Thousands of acres of land under hemp plant cultivation are destroyed by the Multi-Disciplinary Squads (MDS) every year. However, the department could arrest only nine persons involved in such illegal cultivation in 9,548 acres during the last three years,” the report says.

This showed lack of a coordinated strategy and concerted approach by the MDS to arrest the offenders before or during the destruction drive, it says.

Cannabis cultivation

In a bid to nip cannabis cultivation in the bud, the Narcotics Control Bureau under the Ministry of Home Affairs had devised a comprehensive action plan in 2013 to be adopted by the States to control illicit cultivation.

“Audit scrutiny of the records related to annual destruction of hemp plant cultivation in the office of excise commissioner revealed that hemp plant cultivations continued in eight districts during 2014-15 to 2016-17. The department possessed no information on the actual acreage of land under hemp cultivation in a year,” the CAG points out.

The CAG recommended the State government to hold discussions with District Collectors and local people to get effective results.

The CAG has also come down heavily on the State government over low conviction rate and high acquittal rate in cases pertaining to offences for unlawful import, export, transport, manufacture, possession and sale of intoxicants.

Audit observed that during 2014-15 to 2016-17, 20,109 of the 53,774 cases were disposed of by the courts, which included 500 convictions and 19,609 acquittals.

“The percentage of conviction ranged between 0.63% and 3.91% and acquittals ranged between 96.09% and 99.37%. There were high acquittals in cases such as unlawful manufacture, possession, transport and sale of illicit distilled liquor, Indian made foreign liquor, beer and country spirit,” the report says.

Hemp plants over 9,548 acres were destroyed from 2014-15 to 2016-17. However, only nine persons involved in such illegal cultivation were arrested

CAG report

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