Updated: February 25, 2021 8:46:27 pm
Extending its support to the Manipur government’s “War on Drugs”, 33 communities in the state on Thursday took a pledge to work together to destroy all illegal poppy plantations and curb the flourishing drug trade.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh led the leaders and representatives of these communities in taking the pledge at an event in Imphal’s Bhagyachandra Open Air Theatre titled ‘All Communities Convention for a Pledge Against Illegal Poppy Plantation’.
The event was organised by Meitei Leepun (a civil organisation), in association with the apex bodies of 33 communities under the supervision of the chief minister.
The convention was put together after locals, across communities, responded to the CM’s call to join the ongoing campaign against narcotics trade and poppy cultivation.
The pledge was administered by Reverend Zuankanmang Daimei, pastor of Manipur Baptist Convention (MBC). It said, “Onwards from this day, the 25th of February 2021, in the presence of Almighty God and our beloved and visionary leader Shri N. Biren Singh, our Hon’ble Chief Minister, we solemnly pledge that we will support and contribute our best efforts to transform the ‘War on Drugs’ into a people’s war. We further pledge we shall work for completely eradicating illegal poppy cultivation and other illicit drug businesses in any areas of our jurisdiction by any person from within or outside.”
The CM said he was moved by the overwhelming public response to his appeal for support, adding that the convention was a historic event that would be remembered forever.
Assuring all poppy growers of an alternative to support their livelihoods, Singh said funds had been set aside in the Budget for this purpose and additional assistance would also be sought from the Centre.
Needy poppy growers would be identified in consultation with village chiefs and financial assistance would be provided through the deputy commissioners concerned, the CM added.
In February, locals at Peh in Ukhrul district of Manipur showed the way by coming together to destroy poppy plantations in their village. In appreciation of the act, the CM announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh to the villagers, adding that Peh would be developed and promoted as a model village to encourage people elsewhere to join the state’s drug fight.
The BJP government launched the campaign in 2018 amid the swirling drug menace in the state. The state shares a 398-km international border with Myanmar, which often serves as an unfettered corridor for drug traffickers. Poppy is known to be cultivated widely in the hill districts, with as many as four heroine manufacturing units in the state’s upper reaches busted by security forces in 2019.
As per data available with Narcotic and Affairs of Border (NAB), the state’s anti-drug agency, the narcotics police, with help from other security forces, destroyed poppy plantations over 1,853 acres for the crop year September 2017 to March 2018. In crop year September 2018 to March 2019, a total of 2,240 acres were destroyed and the figure stood at 2,306 acres in crop year September 2019 to March 2020.
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