CM vows relentless fight against drug menace

IMPHAL, 1st Oct: Chief minister N Biren has expressed the need for an effective collaboration and co-operation between agencies, communities and countries towards the shared objective of a drug free society for generations to come.
He was speaking as chief guest at the valedictory function of a two-day regional conference on Developing a Comprehensive Approach: Combating Illicit Trafficking of Afghan Opiates and Drug Situation in the North East, organised by United Nations on Drugs and Crime Regional Office, South Asia (UNODC-ROSA) in association with the Government of Manipur at Classic Grande in Imphal East district on Tuesday.
The CM said that the South Asian region is straddled between the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle. As such, Manipur as the land gateway of India to South-East Asia has been for decades dealing with the issues of illegal drug trafficking and related problems.
Stating that drug trafficking continues to be a lucrative form of business with strong inter-linkages between crime, corruption, drug use and HIV infection, Biren asserted that this had serious socio-political implications for the affected countries.
Biren said that the state government in the past two and half years has been actively making continuous efforts in dealing with drug menace. About 4,897 acres of poppy cultivation had been destroyed in the same period. The government is also cracking down on illegal drug production and processing units, seizing drugs worth crores of rupees and arresting key individuals involved in the illegal trade. About 478 kg of opium and about 367 kg of opium derivatives like heroin had been seized since 2017. Several agencies have also seized close to 9 million WY tablets and other banned substances, he added.
The CM also said that there had been increased vigil at the borders by the authorities and consequently there is an increase in seizure of drugs crossing into the country through the porous borders of North East. Manipur in particular is especially vulnerable to drug trafficking and associated issues like HIV-AIDS and Hepatitis-C, he added. The state government is also making efforts to create greater awareness amongst the stakeholders and encourage farmers for planting alternate cash crops, he said and added that the government is seeking assistance from the Centre for funding assistance under National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse for promoting alternative livelihood opportunities in areas affected by poppy cultivation. He also said that union home minister Amit Shah had directed the state governments to effectively deal with drug menace during the recently concluded North East Council meeting held in Guwahati.
Chief secretary Dr J Suresh Babu, UNODC-ROSA representatives Sergey Kapinos & Jayant Misra, and Institute of Narcotics Studies Analysis secretary Devendra Dutt also attended the closing session as dignitaries.
Among others, key recommendations of the conference included establishment of a formal mechanism to foster greater interaction between law enforcement agencies of member countries and law enforcement agencies in India's north east states. This may be facilitated with the development of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for real-time cooperation and coordination on live cases of drug trafficking in the region between member states/NE states. The broad outline of the SOP will be shared and the draft would be finalised within a month.
It was also recommended to strengthen alternative development and promoting livelihood opportunities to curb illicit cultivation of opium and cannabis in north east states. UNODC-ROSA was requested to take initiative to establish and strengthen the South Asia Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre (SARICC) in addition to an integrated border management mechanism with support from member states to counter illicit trafficking.
Delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, eight north east states, Assam Rifles, BSF and CRPF attended the regional conference among others.

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