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NDPS cases in Himachal tripled in last 10 years, poppy, cannabis cultivators on Govt target

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NDPS cases in Himachal Pradesh in last 10 years

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh has turned into a major attraction for foreign tourists. Sadly, far more than its outstanding geography, people and culture, the tourist influx reveals a deadly narcotic nexus. An increasing number of localities are falling prey to this business and addiction.

In Himachal Pradesh, the growing narcotics menace has overwhelmed a large number of youths in Kullu, Manali, Mandi and Shimla. The narcotics trade is assuming a horrific shape in Kullu where large numbers of tourists, mostly Israelis, pour in every year. This has inspired local farmers to clandestinely cultivate illegal poppy or cannabis crops to earn quick bucks.

The number of cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in Himachal Pradesh has more than tripled in last decade, the state government confirms. 

A comprehensive destruction campaign against the cultivation of Opium Poppy was launched from 15-4-2018 in all the districts of the State especially in areas where such cultivation is reported.

The drive is being launched through the Panchayats for the destruction of cannabis crop is grown areas by the end of June 2018.

HP Police’s Action Plan

Giving details of the action plan being undertaken during the campaign, the Director General of Police, Sita Ram Mardi, informed that all revenue and forest officials, elected representatives of Panchayati Raj Bodies, and Urban Local Bodies are duty bound under section 47 of ND&PS Act, 1985 to inform police about the illegal cultivation of cannabis and opium-poppy in their respective area of jurisdiction.

They will give the information in writing to concerned SHO and to Superintendent of Police. The forest officials to patrol in their respective jurisdiction and report the illegal cultivation in their beat to the police.

Once illegal cultivation is detected, a joint campaign will be launched to destroy such cultivation by involving all stakeholders, enforcement agencies such as police, NCB, SNCB, CID and departments of Forests, Revenue, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development.

These agencies will submit a progress report on poppy, opium and cannabis destruction before August 15, 2018. All SPs will associate Mahila Mandals, Yuvak Mandals and other NGOs while conducting the destruction of opium poppy and cannabis crops.
Agriculture and Horticulture departments in coordination with Rural Development department jointly will submit a proposal to adopt alternative cash crops suitable for areas cultivating opium poppy and cannabis illegally.

Sensitizing School Students

Training module for Nodal training Officers of Education department to sensitize students on drug abuse will be prepared. During PTA and SMC meetings, parents of students will also be sensitized on this issue.

Counselling sessions are also being organized once in a week in educational institutions on drug abuse. It was also emphasized that surprised checking should be carried out randomly in and around the educational institutions to identify such students who indulge in drug abuse. The major objective of such counselling is to reach the supplier of drugs through students.

All shops/dhabas located near educational institutions be kept under strict surveillance and their inspection be carried out time to time and suspicious activities around these institutions will be informed to the police.

Public Relations Department will run a massive awareness programme through different methodologies including street plays on the ill effects of drug abuse. However, street play team of Ist IRBn Bangarh Una has already set into action.

The health department will share publicity material of drug abuse on 104 helplines with Education and Public Relations departments for its further dissemination among the public.

Cannabis/Hemp Legalization Could Help Eradicate Drug Mafia

The State High Court would be convening next hearing in a petition filed regarding scopes of legalising cannabis cultivation after replacing the current species with hemp.

Hemp belongs to the cannabis family but the amount of psychoactive substance found in currently grown cannabis is almost negligible.

The genetically modified hemp will possess only .3 to 1 percent potency as compared to 3 to 4 found in the currently cultivated plant. Apparently, these plants will be of no use to the drug users.

The petition argues that while hemp could revolutionize rural economy due to its enormous scope in the manufacturing of as many as 25, 000 products including fibre and biofuel, it can also help eradicate the role of mafia. 

The villagers who are indulged in illegal cultivation of cannabis for money would get employment, the petition argues. 

In fact, the representatives of Bombay Hemp Company had in October 2017 called on Governor Acharya Devvrat at Rajbhawan and gave a presentation on utilizing Industrial Hemp as a strategic asset devoted to a reformation of agriculture and boosting its role in the economy alongwith uplifting socio-economic standards of local farmers.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel had also asked the State and Centre government to provide its response.

However, the government is not taking any interest in this direction. Meanwhile, common people are still mistaking this legalisation petition as an attempt to legalise cannabis smoking, which is not the case here.

For more information, you can read this previous report published on Himachal Watcher.

Misc News/Press Release

Alert: Locust Attack Expected in Himachal’s Four Districts, Know How to Save Crops  

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locust attack in Himachal Pradesh 2020

Shimla– Massive swarms of Desert Locust are reportedly destroying crops in Himachal Pradesh’s adjoining states and may spread to State, informed Director Agriculture Dr R.K. Koundal today. He said that high alert has been issued for Kangra, Una, Bilaspur and Solan districts of the State.

So far, States of Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have been hit by the locust swarms. There are active swarms of immature locust in Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Sikar, Jaipur Districts in Rajasthan and Satna, Gwalior, Seedhi, Rajgarh, Baitul, Devas, Agar Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh.

People from these States have been Tweeting videos and pictures of these swarms.

Dr. R.K. Koundal said that field functionaries have been alerted to keep continuous and constant vigilance on locust activity and get ready to control any locust emergency. Farmers have been asked to report any activity of locusts to nearby Agriculture Officers. 

Desert Locusts usually fly with the wind at a speed of about 16-19 km per hour depending on the wind. When swarm settles down in a particular area it should be quickly treated chemically,  mechanically beaten and buried by digging trenches.

At present, the primary method of controlling Desert Locust swarms and hopper bands is mainly with organophosphate chemical applied in small concentrated doses (referred to as ultra-low volume (ULV) formulation) by vehicle-mounted and aerial sprayers and to a lesser extent by a knapsack and hand-operated sprayers. Small patches of locust should be immediately sprayed by ULV.

Director Agriculture further said that all the field officers have been directed to create awareness among the farmers regarding the locust attack. He said that directions have also been given to check its gregarious and solitary forms immediately by spraying contact insecticides. Bio-insecticides like Metarhizium and Beauveria at 200 gm per 30 litres of water or canal is also effective for control in the long run. Bio-Control Laboratory Kangra and Mandi have been directed to prepare these bio-insecticides at their full capacities.

Presently no locust activity has been reported from any part. Field Officers have directed to keep continuous watch and report any activity of the locust in the fields to the Agriculture Directorate for rebuffing the locust attack effectively.

About Locust Swarms

Locust is an omnivorous and migratory pest and has the ability to fly hundreds of kilometers collectively. It is a trans-border pest and attacks the crop in large swarm. Found in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface. Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s human population. Swarms of locusts in the desert come to India from Africa/ Gulf/ South West Asia during the summer monsoon season and go back towards Iran, Gulf & African countries for spring breeding.

Mature desert locust can eat its own weight in food every day. While this may seem small — a locust only weighs two grams — a relatively small swarm can contain 40 million locusts. Such a swarm would consume as much food in one day as 35,000 people.

In India more than 2 lakh square kilometers area comes under Scheduled Desert Area. 

Usually, the locust swarms enter the Scheduled Desert Area of India through Pakistan for summer breeding in the month of June/July with the advent of monsoon. This year, however the incursions of locust hoppers and pink swarms have been reported much earlier because of presence of residual population of Locusts in Pakistan which they couldn’t control last season. Since 11th April 2020, locust hoppers and from 30th April, 2020, the incursion of pink immature adults has been reported in bordering districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, which are being controlled. Pink immature adults fly high and cover long distances during day hours from one place to another along with the westerly winds coming from the Pakistan side. Most of these pink immature adults settle on the trees during night and mostly fly during day.

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No Permission Needed to Enter Himachal for Persons Having Airline Ticket, Valid Boarding Pass, Train Ticket: Govt

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HP Govt's guidelines for entering himachal pradesh via air and trains

Shimla-The State Government today issued the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) for movement of travellers by domestic flights and trains to Himachal Pradesh. It was informed by a spokesperson of the State Government .

Installing of Aarogya Setu App has been made mandatory for all individuals with Android and iOS phones before boarding the flight/trains and entering the State. The full protocol of social distancing and other guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) while boarding and de-boarding must be maintained.

The travellers would be screened at the airport/railway station before they are allowed to travel to Himachal Pradesh. Arrangement for thermal screening to check ILI/flu-like symptoms to be done at the entry point of the border check post/district concerned of HP.

The airline ticket, valid boarding pass and confirmed train ticket would be a valid document for the movement beyond the Airport arrival terminals and railway stations to respective destination in Himachal. No permission of State Authorities would be needed to enter the State. However, the travellers need to carry a Valid ID Card to prove his identity at the entry point in State.

The spokesperson said that arriving passengers requiring a taxi from airport and railway station to the State may only use authorized and verified taxi service providers. The Entry/Exit from State Borders would be allowed only between 7 AM to 7 PM. The passengers coming from Red Zone would have to mandatorily be shifted to an institutional quarantine facility earmarked by the District Administration for 14 days quarantine.

Other passengers coming from Orange/Green zone would be screened before sending them for home quarantine for 14 days as per guidelines of the MoHFW. In case the individuals want to use any better quarantine facility other than designated Institutional Quarantine by the District Administration, the same may be arranged on a payment basis.

He said that all persons put in institutional quarantine will have to mandatorily undergo COVID test between six to 10 days of the quarantine period. If found negative, they can be released for further home quarantine.

If the person is carrying a personal COVID test report issued by a lab authorized by ICMR, which is negative and has been issued within the last 3 days prior to the date of journey, then institutional quarantine would not be insisted and he/she can straightaway go for home quarantine. Such persons would have to sign an undertaking to ensure a self-monitoring of their health for 14 more days as per protocol. The persons will be shifted to the medical facility maintained by the State Government at the earliest if found positive for COVID-19 at any stage.

All persons after leaving institutional quarantine facility are essentially required to provide their arrival information to the local Urban Local Bodies/ Panchayati Raj Institutions (ULBs/PRIs). The concerned ULB and PRI will monitor the person with the help of the local ASHA/ Health worker regularly for at least the next 14 days. If the person is found to be symptomatic of ILI or COVID-19, the concerned ASHA/Health Worker will immediately report the matter to the Health Authorities. Health Authorities will immediately take the sample of the individual for COVID-19 and take further necessary action as per the outcome of the test report.

He said that all the passengers will strictly follow and ensure compliance to the general instructions/guidelines to be followed by passengers, and Specific Operating Guidelines for major stakeholders for recommencement of Domestic Flights issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India

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Hamirpur Blunder: 15 Returnees Sent Home, Later Found COVID-19 Positive

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Hamirpur covid-19 postive people sent to homes

Hamirpur– The District Administration, Hamirpur, has landed in a controversy after a blunder came to light on Wednesday night. As many as 15 people, who were sent to homes before the confirmation of their test report, were found to be COVID-19 positive late yesterday night. This blunder could lead to a catastrophe in the district. 

The samples of 43 returnees from Maharashtra were sent to IHBT, Palampur, and they were found to be negative in the first test. Their samples were taken again in which 15 tested positive. However,  these people were allowed to go to homes without confirming the report of the second test. As per the guidelines, such persons can only be allowed to go to homes after confirmation of the second report.

But after the confirmation of second reports, all 15 were brought back to quarantine centres in a haste on the intervening night of May 27 and 28.

These persons had returned from Mumbai and Thane in a special train and were quarantined at Navodya Vidyalaya at Dungri, Deotsidh and Nadaun, the Deputy Commissioner, Hamirpur, Harikesh Meena, told PTI.

In another statement to an English Daily, the DC termed it a result of miscommunication. He said a probe has been ordered into the matter.

The Chief Medical Officer, Archan Soni, said responsible administrative and health staff would be held responsible.

Hamirpur is already on the top of the list with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 positive at 93, of which 84 are active. This blunder could create chaos as these 15 people were assured that they tested negative and might not have taken many precautions on reaching homes, which put their families at a high risk of contracting the infection.  

Earlier, this morning, the Bilaspur city was declared a containment zone and sealed after a person tested positive from Bamta area along with six others. The administration suspected that this person concealed his travel history and might have gone out and come in contact with other people in the market.

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