‘Udta Odisha’: State Govt Plans 3-Prong Fight Against Drug Abuse

OB Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Odisha makes for grim statistics when it comes to drug abuse and related crime.

The state has 4.9 lakh people who need help for cannabis-related problems and ranks third only after Uttar Pradesh and Punjab on this count, according to a pan-India survey by the central government.

Odisha is also among the top 10 states with people needing help for alcohol and sedative-related issues, the survey reported.

The number of those addicted to cannabis and other drugs is also increasing in the state with frequent confiscation of narcotics and contraband reported from different parts of the state.

In a major drug haul, Crime Branch’s Special Task Force (STF) on Saturday seized over 990 kg ganja from a truck on NH-60 near Mathani Chhak in Balasore district and arrested a native of Ganjam in this connection.

This came close on the heels of the seizure of 20 kg of opium in Bhubaneswar on Friday. The consignment belonged to Uttar-Pradesh drug traffickers, Narcotics Control Bureau sources said. The same day 1.26 kg brown sugar worth over Rs 1 crore was seized during a raid by the STF at the Khurda bus stand.

Worried about this trend, the Odisha government is considering a three-prong strategy to counter it.

The plan includes the first-ever state-wide survey on drug use, setting up of treatment centres against drug dependency and an alternate livelihood scheme for cannabis growers in Odisha.

State-wide Survey

According to police sources, an Odisha-specific survey on drug use will be carried out on the lines of the national survey. It will collect samples from each district for detailed demographic patterns of drug dependency and abuse.

Treatment Centres

The government is planning to establish treatment centres against drug dependency at three medical colleges and hospitals in the first phase. It may be scaled up later.

Alternate Income

The government has directed the Agriculture Department Secretary to plan an alternate livelihood scheme for farmers to lure them away from cultivating ganja. This will strike a blow to the supply chain in the state, a senior Home Department official said/

National Findings

The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry and National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) carried out the first of its kind survey on drug abuse in the country. The study was conducted at AIIMS, New Delhi in 2019.

The survey found that nearly 4.5 per cent of people in the 10-75 years age bracket used ganja or charas.

OB Bureau

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