February 7, 2021 9:19:16 pm
Manipur Chief Minister on Sunday announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for Peh (Paoyi) village of Ukhrul district in appreciation of the effort undertaken by locals to destroy poppy plantations.
“Peh (Paoyi) would be promoted as a role model for other villages in our ‘War on Drugs’. I urge residents of all other villages to follow the example of Peh (Paoyi),” the CM said.
He informed that the government sent a team of officials from the horticulture, agriculture and fisheries departments to Peh (Paoyi) on Sunday to study the local terrain and find out what alternative crops could be cultivated on the ruins of the poppy plantations.
Being a border state, Manipur continues to be in the grip of a drug menace. Noting that forests were destroyed to raise poppy, the CM said that the initiative of the Peh (Paoyi) residents to put an end to the practice must be appreciated.
Peh falls roughly 30 kms north of the Ukhrul district headquarters and is home to about 600 families. Cultivation is the primary occupation of the village. Apart from engaging in paddy cultivation, the locals earn their livelihoods by growing bananas, chillies and seasonal vegetables.
AS Mawonshang, a village headman in Peh, said he never allowed any activity that could be detrimental to the society, and especially, the youth. He revealed that the poppy plantations belonged to a man who married a woman from the village. It was only recently that the villagers learned about the plantations, he added.
“Once we got to know of the poppy plantations, we decided to send out a message of zero tolerance towards any activity that harms the society. We realized that if we didn’t crack down, poppy cultivation will grow into a lucrative business, drawing more locals to the practice,” Mawonshang told indianexpress.com.
Appreciating the government for announcing a cash reward, Mawonshang urged residents of neighbouring villages to discourage such activities.
With poppy gradually emerging as a major cash crop in the hill districts of Manipur, the government has been exploring alternatives for local cultivation. Poppy plantation is also said to be one of the reasons for rampant deforestation in these districts.
As per the latest India State of Forest Report (ISFR), Manipur lost 499 sq. kms of forest cover between 2016 and 2018. Of the total area lost, 491 sq. kms fall in the hill districts, namely Churachandrapur, Tamenglong, Senapati, Chandel and Ukhrul. The maximum loss of forest cover, about 250 sq. kms, was in Churachandrapur. This district, along with Tamenglong, are also prone to forest fires.
Moreover, rampant felling of trees for poppy cultivation has contributed significantly to the loss of forest cover, said officials in the state forest department.
As per data mined by the Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB), a state agency, the Narcotics police, with the help of other security forces, destroyed 1,853 acres of poppy plantations in Manipur for the crop year from September 2017 to March 2018. In the next crop year, September 2018 to March 2019, a total of 2,240 acres of such plantations were destroyed. The figure rose to 2,306 acres in crop year September 2019 to March 2020.
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