ITANAGAR, Jan 23 � Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki has expressed concerns over cultivation of opium in at least five districts of the State and the resultant addiction among the people.
Interacting with officials from Institute of Narcotics Study and Analysis (INSA) and Narcotics Control department of Government of India here recently, Tuki suggested alternate ways of livelihood to lure people away from opium cultivation, officials said.
�Opium cultivation here is basically practised as it yields a profitable income for rural and poor people. With time it has become a tradition as use of opium is traditionally accepted in indigenous rituals and functions.
�Therefore, we must give them alternate ways of income generation along with awareness to stop this illegal practice,� Tuki said.
Suggesting schemes for propagating horticulture and cultivation of marketable cash crops in place of opium, Tuki appealed to the Central Government to extend financial aid to the State Government as the State, by itself, was not financially equipped to implement such schemes.
To the suggestion for establishment of de-addiction centers in the State, the Chief Minister said that some established centres, attached to health centres, have gone defunct due to lack of equipments, manpower and regular funding.
To do away with similar hurdles, he suggested establishment of a model centre in one of the most affected areas of the State, in Lohit or Anjaw, with all the facilities and required back-up.
If it is successful, he said, other centres can be modelled on it and established in all areas on need basis.
Tuki said that the Centre can offer a special package to persons to give up opium cultivation as well as addiction.
This he said will encourage genuine interest in people and addicts to give up the practice, sources said.
�All these measures would be successful when the administration and law enforcing agencies coordinate and work together,� Tuki said.
With regard to immediate measures to curb the menace, the Chief Minister even suggested making it a policy to go for drug-tests during recruitments in all departments.
He pointed out, if implemented this would drastically bring down drug addiction in youths and subsequently discourage opium as well as ganja cultivation in the State.
Director, Narcotics Control, RN Srivastava said that Parliament had recently passed a National Policy on drug abuse under which funds were available for schemes and programmes to dissuade illegal cultivation of opium and drug abuse.
�We need a comprehensive proposal from the State Government. Funds will never be a constraint,� he assured.
INSA had earlier conducted a survey on opium cultivation and drug abuse in the State which indicated an alarming situation particularly in the districts of Lohit, Anjaw, Lower Dibang Valley, Changlang and Upper Siang districts.
Based on the survey, it had forwarded four recommendations to the government that included establishment of de-addiction and rehabilitation centres, especially in Lohit and Anjaw districts, alternate developments, strict enforcement of law against illicit cultivation and a scheme to register addicts so that opium can be legally prescribed to them as medicine for treatment, sources added. � PTI