Drug abuse draws Himachal lawmakers concern

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Shimla: Rise in drug abuse had lawmakers express concern in the Himachal assembly on Tuesday, where legislators asked for strict enforcement of the law and meting out strict punishment for pedlars, contraband dealers and those involved in illicit brewing and sale of liquor.

Drawing the house’s attention to the issue, Vidya Stokes, opposition leader said the drug abuse was rampant among youngsters, which included both school children and college going students.

Varied kind of intoxicants other than liquor, charas and opium were being consumed and children were being targeted, she said.

Stokes said that Punjab was already grappling with the problem and it was fast spreading in Himahcal.

The opposition leader made a specific mention of Sanajuli, a residential area in Shimla as having become a hub of drug abusers, which the authorities had failed to contain.

Asking for strict enforcement of the law, the opposition leader mentioned that unqualified medical practitioners, who had set up shop is rural areas, were involved in peddling drugs as were some chemists who were selling some drugs without any prescriptions to youngsters.

She sought strengthening of the CID cadre to check growing of contraband crops, containing smuggling and brewing of illicit liquor and keeping a check on sale and purchase of non-prescribed medicines at the drug stores.

Rakesh Pathania, an independent member asked for codifying a more stringent law to contain drug pedalling and trading in contrabands.

The onus to contain the problem issue wrested with the government and launching a ‘say no to drugs’ campaign as well as setting up de-addiction centres would help the cause, he said.

Yograj, a congress legislator asked for removing liquor vends from near any educational institutions as well as from residential colonies to save the young from being attracted to it.

Rajesh Dharmani, a congress first term legislator mentioned that whenever there was a catch of a truck load of smuggled liquor, it pointed to involvement of people from the establishment. “Political protection for such activity should not be given as such people were ruining many families, he said.

Dharmani asked for involving health officials, teachers, police officials, public figures, panchyati raj members, mahila mandals and yuvak mandals to carry out awareness campaigns against drugs.

Responding to the debate, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal termed contraband dealers as anti-national people whose greed for easy money was damaging the health of a nation.

He said the government was aware of the problem and the efforts were being made to save young men from falling prey to drug abuse.

He said narcotic wing had set up special units in Kullu, Chamba and Mandi to nab charas and opium dealers in these regions. The forest department along with anti-narcotic control agencies were engaged in destroying illegal growing of marijuana and opium crops.

Police in plain clothes would be deployed around educational institutions to nab drug pedlars. The excise act had been amended and a provision made for seizing the vehicle involved in smuggling of liquor.

From time to time anti drug campaigns and awareness campaigns were being conducted, he said.

Saying that the government was open to suggestions from the public and the representatives, Dhumal said timely tip-offs from all concerned citizens could help in catching those culprits who were responsible for making a fast buck from drug abuse trade.

Editor-Reporter with Hill Post, Ravinder Makhaik as a journalist has for over two decades worked for India’s leading newspapers and television networks.

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