6 Lakh People in J&K Involved in Drug Abuse: Govt.

Representational Photo by Jason Benavides

90 Percent Users Are In The 17-33 Age Group.

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Friday said as per a consumption survey there are at least 6 lakh residents affected by drug related issues in the region.

The figures were revealed during the maiden meeting of the State Level Committee of the Narco Coordination Centre chaired by Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta. The meeting outlined broad project contours for tackling drug menace in J-K where an estimated six lakh residents are affected by drug abuse.

The officials noted that the drug menace in terms of its usage and addiction has significantly gone up in J-K during the recent years. As per the consumption survey, officials said 90% users are from the 17-33 age group.

Mehta directed for a focussed approach for counselling and rehabilitation of victims of drug and substance abuse for which a broad policy has to be formulated for timely intervention of the Government. He observed that the menace has to be tackled at a mega-scale considering the prevalence of the problem.

The need for compiling data on production of poppy and cannabis in J-K as well as the cross-border transportation to assess the presence of these drugs and their synthetic derivatives in the region was also emphasised during the meeting.

The officials observed that J-K lies in the vicinity of the "Golden Crescent" — a name given to South Asia's opium producing countries Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan — which produces 80 percent of the world's opium and is considered as the prime source of illicit drug trade.

To curb illicit cultivation of poppy, Mehta directed the Anti Narcotics Tasks Force (ANTF) — in coordination with the Excise and Agriculture departments — to map the expected cultivation areas and take remedial actions in terms of destruction of the illegal crops on both private and government lands. The ANTF was further asked to formulate an action plan to prevent such cultivation in the next season.

The ANTF was also directed to undertake extensive awareness generation drives to inform the public on the associated risks and issues, and accordingly plan a calendar of activities. The Task Force was directed to institutionalize the mechanism for promoting wide ranged reporting on illegal cultivation, transportation, trade and consumption of drugs and their synthetic derivatives; through NGOs, PRIs and Volunteers.

Mehta also directed the concerned to enhance conviction rate in narco-related cases while simultaneously focusing on counselling and rehabilitation of drug affected youth.

Further, Mehta stressed on formulation of a multi-faceted strategy to tackle the drug issue including proper training of enforcement agencies, enhancement of drug testing capacity, assessment of illicit production and trade, seizure and destruction, arrest and conviction of accused, and counselling and rehabilitation of victims; to completely eradicate drug problem from the region.

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