Monday, June 8, 2015

In grip of drug menace

                                              Sopan Correspondent/ Chandigarh
As almost 70 per cent of the population of Punjab has experimented drugs at some point or the other, all the political parties in the state have tried to capitalise on the issue to score points on their rivals

, a state which was once known as the land of fierce warriors is fighting its own silent battle with the drug inferno that has engulfed this land of plenty in its venomous fangs. In a study done on the extent of drug abuse comprising a sample population of 600 respondents, it was found that around 75% youth in the age group of 15-25 is an addict.
Drugs perhaps have become the greatest bane of Punjab in the last few years so much so that it has penetrated in some form or the other in every village and every family of the state.
In May, the Chandigarh-based Joshi Foundation, which has been spreading awareness in the state against drugs, organised a round table conference to dissect the problem and find solutions.
It came out with recommendation. To save the youngsters from drugs the family, society and then government will have to make concerted joints efforts and fulfil their responsibilities. The parents should create a drug-free atmosphere at their homes and spend maximum time with their children. Children's companionship and their habits should be watched closely. If a relative or someone known to the family gives not -so-pleasing information about your child, you should take it in a constructive manner. The need of hour is to re-introduce societal policing as the people in society can play an important role in helping create a drug free Punjab albeit on the condition that society and government gives them due credit.
Rajya Sabha MP Avinash Rai Khanna, SGPC member and chairperson Punjab State Women Commission Paramjit Kaur Landran and Joshi Foundation's chairman and Punjab government's assistant media advisor Vineet Joshi and 12 other dignitaries participated.
Khanna said when the family, society and government was being held responsible for it, all the four should get together and wage a battle against the addiction. He added that the law alone could not do anything. Societal awakening is needed to slain the monster of drugs.
Vineet Joshi said, "As a matter of fact, drug addiction is spread widely in all parts of India bet it be Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh or any other state. The only difference is that in Punjab, it has become a burning issue."
Paramjit Kaur Landran, chairperson Punjab State Women Commission, said that in the 80 percent cases received at commission, drug addiction is the main cause of feud. She said that the eminent end put to joint families and children getting isolated from their parents and families were main causes of drug addiction. She added that the Paying Guest culture was proving detrimental to the society as in absence of parents children were falling easy prey to drug addiction.
Chairman of the Rayat and Bahra Group of Institutes Gurvinder Singh Bahra said that weak parents and crumbling families were the prime cause of concern for the children falling into addiction trap. He said that the students should be admitted to college hostels instead of PGs where there is no check on them.
In Punjab, there has been a demand from the centre for steps for formulating a uniform National Drug Policy to deal with the menace. Former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, in a letter to the Prime Minister, said: "Without a coordinated effort by vari ous states under the guidance of the Centre, it is not possible to eradicate this problem that is eating into the vitals of our younger generation."
 There were three sources of drugs supply to Punjab. One comes from across the border from Pakistan. Second type of drugs were the ones produced in Madhya Pradesh where there is no restriction on growing poppy and selling opium. It then travels to Rajasthan where it is legally traded. Since Punjab is on the border with Rajasthan, it becomes a lucrative market. The relative affluence of people in Punjab also makes them easy targets of drug trade.
The third type of drugs was produced locally, which are called synthetic drugs. These are cheaply produced within Punjab and are easily available.
 Although there is total ban on growing or trading in poppy or its products in Punjab, it hardly served any purpose as long as it is not banned in the states where it can be produced and traded Need for formulating a uniform National Drug Policy that is applicable across the country emanates from this.
 As almost 70 per cent of the population of Punjab has experimented drugs at some point or the other, all the political parties in the state have tried to capitalise on the issue to score points on their rivals.
In an attempt to outdo each other, Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) held independent crusades against the issue of drug menace in Punjab at the start of 2015. SAD staged sit-ins at international borders "to create awareness", BJP launch its anti-drug campaign and Congress staged dharnas at all district headquarters on the issue in January.
The menace of existence of drugs could be gauged from the fact that over 16,600 FIRs were registered between April 15, 2013 and May 31, 2014 for which data was available.  As a result of this, 18,651 persons were arrested, an official of the Narcotics Bureau of Punjab said.
 He said that those arrested included peddlers in poppy husk, opium, heroin, smack, ganja, sulfa, charas, brown sugar and various intoxicants.  A total of 2.41 lakh kg of poppy husk, 1,155 kg of opium, 480 kg of heroin, 53 kg of smack and a large quantity of drugs and intoxicants were captured during this period, he said.
 The official said that heroin was mostly sold in border areas while poppy husk and synthetic drugs were sold in Bathinda and Patiala respectively. In Punjab's war against drugs, the state police department started its collaboration with village panchayats and elected representatives in urban belts to identify the drug addicts.  The police have been asked to tie with village panchayats to identify drug addicts so that they could be rehabilitated in a phased manner.
In addition, senior IAS and police officers have now been deployed to jointly monitor special medical camps set up at block-level to detoxify and rehabilitate drug addicts in Punjab.
Underscoring the need to carry out detoxification of drug addicts on a war-footing, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said: "With police tightening noose around drug peddlers, the demand for treatment for drug de-addiction has witnessed a rapid surge due to which the need of the hour is to impart de-addiction facilities to addicts at their nearest places."
Badal asked Principal Secretary (Health) Vinni Mahajan to ensure that drug addicts are given quality medical facilities to wean them away from the menace. Chief Minister asked Mahajan to establish a control room in Chandigarh to ensure quick supply of medicines to such camps besides ensuring other logistic support. Special Secretary Health and Family Welfare Vikas Garg has been appointed the Nodal officer at Chandigarh to coordinate for the drug de-addiction operations across the state.
 Badal said that services of civil and police administrations under a Deputy Commissioner and a Senior Superintendent of Police, respectively, along with a Civil Surgeon and Senior Medical Officers should be roped in for such camps. "15 IAS and 13 police officers, who have been allotted one or two districts each, will oversee arrangements in the medical camps within their jurisdiction," he said, adding that they would co-ordinate with the Principal Secretary, Health, to plug any loopholes to ensure best treatment to drug addicts.

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