Maoists smell money in hemp, Centre plans to root out menace
By Express News Service - BHUBANESWAR
11th August 2012 01:27 PM
Large-scale ganja cultivation in tribal hinterland and inaccessible terrains of Odisha has drawn attention of the Centre as Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) are reportedly getting huge financial gain from growing of the contraband.
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is reported to have formulated an action plan to contain the menace which is rampant in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar besides Odisha. The CPI (Maoist) has long been accused of protecting cultivation of ganja and poppy in their strongholds to secure funds for its movement.
The Centre is also planning to keep surveillance on the cultivation of the contraband through generation of satellite imagery. The NCB along with Central and State agencies is planning to identify the locations and carry out destruction of illicit cultivation which it does on a periodic basis. The plan includes formation of composite teams at district level for field verification and destruction of the cultivation.
While poppy is a major area of concern for Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar, in Odisha, it is primarily hemp. “When the NCB carried out an assessment recently, a few suspect pockets were found in the State but there were no poppy cultivation on the ground. So poppy has been ruled out for Odisha, It’s hemp which is the cause of worry,” said reliable sources in the State Police.
Hemp cultivation has a long history in the State. Most of the illicit cultivation is taken up in Malkangiri, Phulbani, Angul and some pockets of Deogarh. In fact, Chhendipada and its contiguous pockets with Sambalpur’s Rairakhol have emerged as the hemp capital of the State.
“We might be tempted to say that Naxals promote and protect hemp cultivation but there is very little movement of the LWEs in Angul for that matter. Inaccessible pockets are the hotbeds for growing of the ganja in the State,” said official sources.
That Naxals benefit from the hemp cultivation is not new, it is the political patronage which promotes the illicit cultivation. Last year, an activist of the ruling Biju Yuva Janata Dal had been nabbed in Uttar Pradesh with a truck-load of hemp which was being transported from Malkangiri. The consignment was on its way to Delhi, sources add.
Centre’s attention to the issue was drawn after NCB stumbled upon a huge patch of poppy cultivation at Bandarmara village of Bihar’s Jamui district.
However, surveillance through satellite imagery has not yet been started in Odisha though the State agencies such as Crime Branch and Excise keep receiving inputs from NCB over hemp cultivation. The Centre is using the imagery mostly for North-East states, sources added.
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