Launching the second phase of his government’s Drug Abuse Prevention Officer (DAPO) initiative on Thursday, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh claimed that there was 126 per cent increase in the number of youths visiting Outdoor Patient Departments (OPDs), which showed stupendous success of their efforts to wipe out the menace from the state. “As against 1.82 lakh youngsters who reported at OPDs for treatment in 2016, the number had gone up to 4.12 lakh in 2017,” said the Chief Minister during the launch function in Tarn Taran on Thursday.
He added that as many as 5,107 youth were being treated at government rehabilitation centres and another 17,667 in private hospitals. “Nobody will be spared if found involved in spreading the menace of drugs. The big fish will soon be nabbed,” the CM said, reiterating his vow to wean the youth away from drugs through positive government interventions, including uplift of the standards of education in the state.
“My government’s top priority is to improve the education system in the state,” the CM said, reiterating his suggestion for a five per cent cut in the budget of each of the other departments to raise additional revenue for enhancing the standard of education. The CM went on to exhort the people to join hands with the government in its battle against drugs and rehabilitation of the affected youths.
Appreciating the efforts of STF and health department, the CM said the response of the people showed their support to this unique initiative. “Of 4.8 lakh DAPOs registered in the state, 26,000 are from Tarn Taran,” he pointed out.
On the occasion, the chief minister also dedicated to the people Nasha Roku Nigram Committees, launched Buddy Programme and Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) centres at 60 subdivisions of the state.
The chief minister called for proactive efforts by all concerned to make the Buddy Programme, launched in schools for counselling students against drugs, a success. The programme will cover all students from Class VI onwards, however, starting with Class IX in the first phase.
The chief minister further pointed out that 29 OOAT clinics were already operational in the districts of Moga, Amritsar and Tarn Taran with a total of more than 4,400 patients registered so far. The retention rate at these clinics was as high as 86 per cent, he claimed.
Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, Education Minister O P Soni, MP from Amritsar Gurjit Singh Aujla, MLAs Harminder Singh Gill, Dharamvir Agnihotri, Tarsem Singh D C, Santokh Singh Bhalaipur and Sukhwinder Singh Danny Bandala, Special Principal Secretary to CM Gurkirat Kirpal Singh, STF Chief ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu and Divisional Commissioner Raj Kamal Chaudhary were among those present on the occasion.