International Conference Cum Workshop on Comprehensive Approach to Combating Illicit Trafficking of Afghan Opiates & Drug Situation was inaugurated by Governor Dr. Najma Heptullah in at Hotel Classic Grande at Imphal in Manipur on Monday.
The conference was organized by the Government of Manipur and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office, South Asia (UNODC-ROSA).
Governor Dr. Najma Heptullah said that the South Asia Regional Office of UNODC approached her to convene a workshop in Manipur to take stock of the current situation of drug abuse cases in the North East, particularly in Manipur. Also, she was asked to formulate an action plan for the North East as part of a comprehensive action plan for the South Asia Region.
The Governor said that it is a mandate for all, the Central Government, State Governments, Legislators and Civil Society organizations to eliminate the evil menace from the society.
Heptullah further added, “Besides poverty, the drug situation in the North East is equally alarming. Concerted action is required to reduce both, the cultivation and production on the one hand and the demand and dependence on the other, as there is a high prevalence of drug abuse in several areas over and above the National Average, as pointed out by Dr. Ambekar in his recent study.”
“Intensive study about the cultivation and consumption of drugs in each of the eight States, including Sikkim has to be carried out to devise our response to the problem effectively. If seizure reports are an indication, then a coordinated approach is required by all the countries of South Asia,” the Governor added.
Governor Dr. Najma Heptullah suggested UNODC take initiative to establish a South Asia Regional Intelligence Sharing mechanism, in addition to integrated border management mechanisms to counter illicit trafficking as the Regional Cooperation Agency. Governor also suggested UNODC convene and conduct training and capacity building of Law Enforcing Agencies of all the six countries under the Regional Office besides conducting authentic studies on the drug situation in the North East.
Heptullah also added that it would be beneficial if NCB and Customs Academy take up the responsibility of training the laboratory personnel in this field to monitor the precursors effectively besides controlling drugs.
Governor stated that capacities of the law enforcing agencies of the States of North East can be significantly enhanced if the Central Enforcement Agencies like NCB, ED and DRI impart their skills to the operational local State agencies in the North East.
Governor also assured that she would pursue with Speaker of Lok Sabha, who is also the President of Indian Parliamentary Group through the Manipur Branch of the Indian Parliamentary Group to consider a Special Session of IPU in association with the UNODC at Manipur or any other suitable venue in the North East specifically focusing on drug and drug-related wide range of issues which require Parliamentary intervention.
As North East touches the Golden Triangle, one of the most lucrative of the drug trade regions on the globe, India should establish inter-governmental and institutional mechanisms with neighbouring countries to counter the drug menace, she said.
Chief Secretary Dr. Suresh Babu said that Manipur stands first in infant mortality rate but high in drug abuse, trafficking and HIV/AIDS. The state is facing an alarming situation as most of the drug users are found among the high school students. The Government of Manipur for the last 2 years has been extensively organizing drug control programmes such as destroying poppy cultivation in almost all the hill districts.
“Social organizations like youth clubs, village-level youth forums, women organizations, etc., which are not found in other parts of the country are actively participating in issues concerning the society and the state as a whole. These agencies are not able to tap the real potential and are seen mostly as troubleshooting agencies where they are trying to keep a watch on the drug users,” he added.
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