PALLEL, June 26 � Eighteen per cent of the students in Manipur were found to have used narcotics and psychotropic drugs, claims a senior official of Department of Community Medicine of the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Imphal.
Dr AK Brojen of RIMS said this at a seminar to commemorate the �International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking�, under the theme �Think Health � Not Drugs� here at Pallel, about 45 km south of Imphal today. He said that they have found the development in their recent study.
�This is an alarming issue but we are turning a blind eye to it,� Dr Brojen said and expressed the need to develop a policy on drug users. He urged the concerned authority to develop updated counselling centres at the educational institutions with the involvement of trained hands. Parading of drug users in media is not encouraging, he feels.
Manipur is home to 50,000 drug users including 34,500 intravenous drug users (IDU) while about 14,000 drug users are concentrated in Imphal alone, according to UNODC reports.
�Time has come to carry out awareness programmes in our schools on a war footing�, said M Gandhar, a former drug user turned NGO worker.
Associate Professor Ch Priyoranjan of Manipur University�s Economics department urged the government to step in and control the drug menace.
The State which is one of the largest supplier and consumer of illicit opium products rank third in India based on the percentage of drug users. With 28 per cent of the population under the influence of drug, Manipur boasts one of the highest cases of IDUs in India. The Assam Rifles in cooperation with Narcotics Control Bureau in the recent past has confiscated and destroyed 2,338 kgs of contraband drugs. The seminar was sponsored by the Assam Rifles.