Chief minister Jairam Thakur has initiated a crackdown because the use of synthetic drugs like chitta and pharmaceuticals is also increasing.
Chandigarh: The drug situation in Himachal Pradesh is spiralling dangerously out of control, forcing chief minister Jairam Thakur to reiterate his government’s commitment to tackling the issue.
The state, known for its illegal cultivation of cannabis and its derivatives — hashish, charas and the very popular Malana Cream — is now struggling with the rising use of heroin and pharmaceutical drugs, quite like the situation in its notorious neighbour Punjab.
At a meeting Monday, the CM once again instructed deputy commissioners and SPs to adopt a no-tolerance policy towards peddlers. Last week, he had launched a massive state-wide campaign to check drug abuse.
The NCB data for 2015 showed that only 0.57 kg of heroin was recovered from the state. In 2016, this increased to 0.98 kg. However, in 2017, heroin recovery showed a sharp increase to over 71 kg. While this is a small amount compared to Punjab, where the recovery of heroin was over 400 kg last year, the fact that heroin has found takers in Himachal certainly isn’t good news. This year, till 31 July, over 5 kg of heroin has been recovered in the state.
“Known for its high addictive power, as also its availability in adulterated versions including what is known as chitta in Punjab, the spread of heroin needs to be crushed immediately,” said Shubhra Tiwari, SP (NCB) CID, Himachal.
According to the 2015 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report (released in July 2016), the number of cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in Himachal was 622. The crime rate (per lakh population) was 8.8, much lower than Punjab (35 per cent) but higher than Haryana (6 per cent).
In NCRB’s 2016 report (released in July 2017), Himachal — with 929 cases — had risen to the third spot (13 per cent crime rate), while Punjab had come down to 20 per cent.
Baddi, the state’s pharmaceutical hub, is notorious for the manufacture and supply of huge quantities of pharmaceutical drugs, which are widely misused in Punjab and Haryana. The number of tablets recovered in Punjab in 2017 was over 35 lakh; in Haryana, it was almost 17 lakh; in Himachal, 2.4 lakh.
Punjab has been highlighting its concerns regarding the Baddi units with the Himachal government.
At Himachal’s initiative, a meeting of the chief ministers of Himachal, Punjab and Haryana was held in Chandigarh on 20 August, where a joint strategy was chalked out to curb the problem. It was decided that inspections and regular checkups would be conducted by the police teams of Himachal, Punjab, Haryana and Uttarakhand in state-border areas.
This year, by 31 July, almost one lakh tablets and capsules being misused as drugs have been recovered in Himachal.
“The problem is rampant in Himachal as well because these medicines are cheaper here,” Tiwari said.
“We have asked the health authorities to start a manufacture audit of the various pharmaceutical units in the state to ascertain the quantities being produced and also the possible diversion of precursor (raw) material to drug manufacturers.”
Himachal’s drug headache was, for years, limited to illegal cannabis plantations in the Kullu Valley. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)’s 2015 report said almost 420 acres of cannabis cultivation was destroyed in the state. However, the next year, the proliferation of cultivation had touched over 5,600 acres. It remains among the top five states in the country in terms of recovery of hashish.
By 30 June, police has recovered almost 300 kg of charas in Himachal.
The ancient Aryan village of Malana is known the world over as a haven for those looking for a high in the hills. An oily and aromatic strain of hashish called Malana Cream is considered to be the purest form of hashish and is derived by the locals from the cannabis grown illegally in the surrounding Parvati Valley. The international popularity of the drug brings thousands of tourists to the village. The economy of the area has boomed following the explosion of the demand for Malana Cream.
In December last year, following the directions of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, hotels operating illegally in the area were shut down to try and curb the menace.