By Amitava Roy
Imphal, Nov 3 (PTI) Manipur government has declared awar on drugs affecting a significant number of people in thestate, Chief Minister N Biren Singh has said.
The state government and the security forces haveinitiated projects to wean away drug users from the addiction,while initiating strict action against drug peddlers, he said.
The chief minister said 600 peddlers were arrestedthis year and fast track courts have been set up to try theaccused persons. The Northeastern state, which is close to the GoldenTriangle in Southeast Asia -- infamous for drug trafficking,has been affected by drug usage and a large number of HIVcases owing to intravenous drug usage.
"Thousands of hectares of land are used for poppycultivation in areas near the international border withMyanmar," Singh told a group of visiting newspersons.
He said the poppy is exported to other countries viathe Golden Triangle.
"We are taking help of the Army and Assam Rifles toroot out the cultivation of poppy in Manipur," the chiefminister said adding that the poppy growers are beingrehabilitated with lemongrass cultivation.
"The happy news is people are getting involved incountering drug peddling," Singh said.
He said at Lilong in Thoubal district, drug peddlarswere captured and the seized drugs were burnt.
The All Lilong Anti-Drug Association (ALADA) hashelped in recovering drugs worth over Rs 6 crore since it wasset up in July 2017, its tribe secretary Abid Hussain claimed.
He said while drugs like spasmoproxival, N10 come fromwithin the country, heroin and World is Yours (WY) are broughtin from Myanmar by the peddlers.
"These drugs are widely used in Manipur and otherstates in the north-east," Hussain said.
Very poor economic condition, lack of jobopportunities and easy availability of drugs lead to the highnumber of drug addicts, he said.
At Lilong, which has a one-lakh population, the ALADAhas identified 2,000 users though the actual number may behigher, he said.
Sister Veronica, who runs rehabilitation centre'Sneha' for women drug addicts, said there are 11 women atpresent at its residential facility.
Lalboi, a poppy cultivator from Joupi village in thesouthern part of the state, said during an interaction withPTI at Kakchin town that he alongwith many others in andaround his village were engaged in this for sustenance.
Stating that there are around 150 poppy cultivators inhis area, he said "Assam Rifles is helping us with seeds andknowhow in cultivating lemongrass so that we give upcultivation of poppy."
"It will take three to four years before we reapbenefits from cultivation of lemongrass," the 32-year-old manwith a family of five, said.
Lemongrass is a fragrant tropical grass which yieldsan oil that smells of lemon and is widely used in Asiancooking and in perfumery and medicine.
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