After enacting the dry law in Mizoram 17 years ago,the state government is now mulling formulating a new drug policy to combat worsening drug abuse deaths even as social workers accuse the government of dragging its feet over putting the legislation in place.
The existing drug laws in the state,including the Drugs and Cosmetic Act,1940 and the Assam Drug (Control) Act,1950,are found to be ineffective in tackling the problem and a weak deterrant.
According to official sources,1,234 people have died in the state since 1984 till May 25,this year. The record maintained by the Excise and Narcotics Department said that of the dead,as many as 1,129 people lost their lives due to abuse of prominent painkillers available in the market.
A senior official of the department said that provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1985 cannot be used on the sale,possession or abuse of clinical drugs as they are manufactured legally,
“What we need is a stringent local law to combat the clinical drugs widely abused by the youths in the state which will provide harsher punishment,” the official said.
Abuse of cough syrups sold over the counter killed around 20 people within two months spanning December,2012 and January,2013 while 87 heroin addicts have died since 1984.
Doctors say that some brands of cough syrup become fatal when being taken along with liquor or even wine made from grape.
Though Mizoram is one of the main conduits for trafficking of heroin from the Golden Triangal via Myanmar with which the state shares 404-km porous international border,the main killer of Mizo youths remains the clinical drugs smuggled from neighbouring states especially Assam.
The painkiller drugs become fatal when the youths peel off the capsules and inject the medicine powder into the veins,though the medicines are meant to be taken orally.
This leads to collapse of the veins and blockage of arteries which either kills the user or renders him physically handicapped.
Excise and Narcotics Commissioner,Lalbiakmawia Khiangte,says that more than 500 lakh tablets of a particular drug have been seized by the department officials since 2011 till date.
Officials of the state Drugs Control Administration have seized more than 6.3 lakh tablets during 2012-2013,according to Lalsawma Pachuau,Deputy Drugs Controller.
The main routes of the drugs,identified by the officials,are Delhi-Kolkata-Aizawl-Myanmar,Uttarakhand-Kolkata-Aizawl-Myanmar and Assam-Aizawl-Myanmar.
A government official,who does not want to be named,accuses the government of soft pedalling a strong legislation to effectively deal with the drug menace in the state.
“It may be that the powerful church and the NGOs are not pressuring the state government to enact effective law as they did to impose prohibition,” he feels.
Social workers also lament that it took so long to legislate a local drug control law to tackle the drug menace in Mizoram,that also after more than a thousand people died due to abuse of clinical drugs smuggled from neighbouring state of Assam.