Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Tuesday said his government was taking effective steps to curb the menace of drug peddling by trying to create alternative livelihood sources for people involved in poppy plantation.
Replying to a question by Ravinder Singh Ravi (BJP) during the question hour, Singh said, “It is our top most priority to deal with drug menace and suitable amendments would be made in the law to handle the issue more seriously,” adding that periodic meetings were being held under him and the Chief Secretary has been told to keep constant watch over the situation.
“Currently, the campaign for uprooting cannabis is also going on in the state with the involvement of youth,” he said adding, the government was aware of the need to provide alternative livelihood to the people in some pockets where they were dependent on the illicit trade of cannabis and opium.
“We will put in efforts to provide alternate source of income to people involved in poppy plantation by motivating them to go for flower cultivation and agriculture,” he said.
He said Malana village in Kullu had potential to produce high quality apple and in order to provide alternate source of income to those residents best quality imported apple plant would be distributed to them.
He said people in cannabis growing areas would also be motivated to switch over to vegetable cultivation and floriculture to earn their livelihood.
Singh informed that 274 cases under ND and PS Act were registered across the state and 320 people were arrested between April 1 and July 31 this year and 133 kg charas, 10 kg Opium, 223 gm Heroin, 302 kg Chura Post, 6.03 kg Ganja, 0.004 gm Smack, 50181 tablets, 29689 capsules and 899 bottles of cough syrups were recovered.
Ravinder Singh Ravi said the figures provided by the government for four months were alarming. He said in Thural area of Kangra district, three lakh bottles of fluid were sold in a year and there was need for proper check and a team should be formed to look into the matter seriously.
Maheshwar Singh (BJP) said that in five districts, drive had been launched to uproot cannabis plantation but it is confined only to private lands where illegal plantation was being done and the cannabis plants had not been removed from forests land and along the roads. The Chief Minister said the drive to root out cannabis plantations has been launched in all the areas and is not confined to private land alone.
In reply to another question, Forest minister, Thakur Singh Bharmouri, said the state government had on May 16, 2016, decided to give compensation to all the victims of animal bites. Earlier, it was only for the wild animal bites but now the victims bitten by other animals have also been included,” he said.
Replying to another question, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Dhani Ram Shandil informed the assembly that 167 cow sheds in the state were under construction and 46 were functional as of late. He said the government was taking steps to ensure that the animals were not abandoned.