Empower local bodies to check cannabis cultivation: Himachal CM

Shimla, Sep 11 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Friday said the local bodies should be empowered and the people should rewarded for reporting illegal cultivation of cannabis and opium.

The urban local bodies and gram panchayats should be given the responsibility to report on any type of illegal cultivation of drugs on both private and government land, the chief minister said at a meeting to review the steps being taken to curb the drug menace.

He said any person giving a clue about drug trafficking or any such associated activity taking place in their vicinity would be suitably awarded.

Police records show that there are 50,000 acres of cannabis under cultivation in the Kullu Valley alone.

In the past five years, 70 foreigners, mainly Britons, Israelis, Dutch, Germans, Japanese and Italians, have been arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

The chief minister also favoured a separate office of the superintendent of police to nab the drug-peddlers and smugglers.

“A lot has been done to root-out drug menace but I feel whatever is being done is not enough to completely eradicate production of cannabis and poppy and to restrict the smuggling of drugs from outside the state,” an official statement quoting Virbhadra Singh said.

He said it was alarming that a large number of youths were falling prey to the drugs.

“If the problem is not eradicated now, we can face the similar problem as Punjab is facing,” he added.

Revenue Minister Kaul Singh said a joint campaign would be conducted by the forest and revenue departments to check illegal cultivation of cannabis and poppy.

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