The new anti-drug squad: Who they are, what they will dohttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/the-new-anti-drug-squad-who-they-are-what-they-will-do-5109485/

The new anti-drug squad: Who they are, what they will do

The STF worked on the three-pronged strategy of enforcement, de-addiction and prevention to tackle the drug menace. DAPO programme is a part of the preventive strategy.

The new anti-drug squad: Who they are, what they will do
Youth take oath to fight drug abuse at a function at Khatkar Kalan, Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s ancestral village in Nawanshahr, on Friday. (Express photo)

What is the Drug Abuse Prevention Officer (DAPO) programme in Punjab?

After coming to power in March last year, the Congress government in Punjab constituted a Special Task Force (STF) to fight the drug menace. The STF worked on the three-pronged strategy of enforcement, de-addiction and prevention to tackle the drug menace. DAPO programme is a part of the preventive strategy.

What are the functions of a DAPO?

A DAPO is supposed to raise awareness regarding drug abuse and identify users, high-risk people and vulnerable sections. DAPO will also motivate drug users and their families to avail of treatment facilities, will facilitate treatment and counselling at drug de-addiction centres and will give his feedback with documentation. DAPO will be entrusted with a locality/cluster of houses which will be his/her core jurisdictional area. However, a DAPO may spread the message against drugs in society at large irrespective of his/her allotted jurisdictional area.

Are there any categories of DAPOs?

DAPOs have been categorised into two, the official volunteer (OV) and citizen volunteer (CV). The roles and responsibilities of both are, however, same. DAPO (OV) is a person who is working under the Punjab government or any of its undertaking. DAPO (CV) would be any other person, above 18 years of age and who applies to be a DAPO. The volunteer has to submit a self-declaration that he/she has not been convicted in any criminal case and neither been accused in any drug related case in any court of law.

Will Punjab government pay the DAPOs?

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No. The assignment is honorary. A DAPO has to give an undertaking stating that services rendered by him/her would be voluntary and without any remuneration.

How the DAPOs are enrolled? How their work will be monitored?

The process for the enrolment started on March 12. There was mass enrolment of DAPOs across Punjab on Friday simultaneously as CM launched the programme and administered oath to volunteers. His cabinet colleagues also administered oath to volunteers in various district headquarters. DAPOs will be enrolled by District Mission Teams (DMTs) through Sub-Division Mission Teams (SDMTs). The volunteer’s work will be monitored by Village/Ward Mission Team, whose work in turn will be monitored by SDMTs. DMTs will monitor work of SDMTs and Special Task Force and Punjab Home Affairs and Justice Secretary-cum-nodal officer Anti Drug Program will monitor the work of DMTs. The self-declaration with application form submitted by a volunteer would serve the purpose for enrolment only. The declaration, as per guidelines of the programme, will be verified at later stage and DAPO Identity Card will be issued only after verification and training. The government will issue guidelines for training in second phase.

How many volunteers have enrolled to become DAPOs so far?

By Friday, Additional Director General of Police Harpreet Sidhu, who heads the STF, informed that applications of more than 4 lakh had been entered into the database system and another 37,000 applications received were being fed into the system. Sidhu said out of the applications already fed in the system, over 3.38 lakh were citizen volunteer applications and over 66,000 official ones. He said more than 3.61 lakh application were submitted by men and over 43,000 by women. “Our target is to cover each locality/mohalla in the State. All are welcome. The more the numbers [of DAPOs] in each locality, the better it is,” Sidhu said.