Drugs, poppy & ‘alternatives’

It is indeed heartening to note that the State seems to be sincere enough this time in its approach to provide alternatives to poppy planters of the State. The task at hand is undoubtedly momentous but the road ahead is fraught with challenges. It will need sustained efforts involving all stakeholders to overcome the issue of extensive poppy plantation in the hill areas of the State. With almost all communities coming forward voluntarily to stop and prevent poppy plantation in their respective areas, the Government’s War on Drugs seems to be heading in the right direction as of now. The success or failure of this ‘war’ will largely depend on the economic viability of the other means of income generation which are being   promoted as alternatives to poppy plantation. The Government has already launched a scheme called ‘Cultivation of Horticulture Crops as an Alternative to Poppy Cultivation in Hill Areas’ with the obvious objective of persuading a large number of people to give up poppy plantation and take up cultivation of horticulture crops. It is too early to pass any comment on whether the horticulture crops being promoted as alternatives to poppy plantation can provide reliable sources of income. But it is a foregone conclusion that generation of income for mere sustenance would never be enough. All the people including those who used to plant poppy would definitely yearn for economic security. The implication is loud and clear. Horticulture crops and other alternative means of livelihood projected and promoted by the State should be profitable enough to farmers. The success or failure of the scheme will definitely have consequential effects on the Government’s War on Drugs.
While vigorously implementing the new scheme, the State needs to find out all those people who were/are investing huge amounts for poppy plantation in different hill areas of the State. Until and unless, these big players are taken to task, the War on Drugs will never be complete.  Drug trafficking particularly heroin is no longer a local trade. In fact, it is a multi-national, cross-border trade as indicated by the seizure of drugs which originated from Manipur in different parts of the country.  There are reports of involvement of (apart from local elements) drug mafias from foreign countries such as China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal. They are said to not only have contacts in many remote villages where poppy cultivation were/are being taken up on a massive scale, but were/are also investing huge amounts. If this is the case, the war against drugs must be fought both within the State and beyond, of course with the help of the neighbouring countries. If the reports of seizure of different types of drugs which come almost every day are any indication, we fear some well connected and influential drug cartels are thriving in the State. It is these drug cartels which the Government and its agencies must deal with a strong hand and firm conviction. The law enforcing agencies need to pull up these cartels and destroy their clandestine networks. The war against drugs should not be restricted to arresting just couriers, if the Government is determined to win it. Although there are numerous cases of seizure of huge consignments of drugs and arrest of couriers, there is no report of arresting any kingpin or drug lord except in a couple of isolated cases. This is one question which is being raised every now and then by concerned citizens and the State is answerable to this question.