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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

Holding Clean Elections India’s Biggest Challenge as Misuse of Money Increases By Leaps And Bounds: EC

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Multi-Departmental Committee on Election Intelligence

New Delhi: Conducting clean elections is now one of the biggest challenges in our democracy given the prevalent abuse of money power, particularly when it manifests in the inducement of voters, the Elections Commission of India said today.

Unfortunately, the use of the money during the elections has increased by leaps and bounds in recent times. Mischief mongers are ever devising more ingenious ways to beat the system, said the EC Larger seizures have been made by our enforcement teams in successive elections.

To address this paramount problem, the Election Commission of India headed by Chief Election Commissioner  Sunil Arora along with Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra today held a meeting of Multi-Departmental Committee on Election Intelligence.  Heads of Tax Boards, Law enforcement agencies, Central Paramilitary Forces and representatives of Financial Institutions attended the meeting.

The Chief Election Commissioner, Sunil Arora along with the Election Commissioners, Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra at Meeting of Multi-Departmental Committee on Election Intelligence, in New Delhi on March 15, 2019.

He said Commission is determined to curb this menace and has issued detailed guidelines to monitor election expenditure incurred by candidates and political parties.  He said individually and collectively the agencies participating in the meeting are the bulwarks of clean elections. The outcome of synergised action should exceed the commitments made. 

To ensure clean elections, it is vital keeping track of the legal expenditure incurred by candidates and political parties for election campaigns. More importantly, it is imperative to ensure that there is no illegal use of money and other items for buying of votes, said Election Commissioner Chandra.

Issues Discussed at Committee on Election Intelligence

  • Ways of Curbing of covert expenditure by candidates and political parties
  • Sensitisation of the law enforcement agencies about their role during elections
  • Co-operation and sharing of intelligence of economic offences amongst law enforcement agencies for effective action
  • Preparation of road map for action during the elections
  • Mapping of constituencies by concerned agencies to check transportation of smuggled goods, drugs, liquor, and cash, including fake currency, through seaports, inter-state borders and international borders and pro-active and preventive action by each law enforcement agency

The Heads of Tax Boards, Law enforcement agencies, Central Paramilitary Forces and representatives of Financial Institutions assured the Commission of prompt 24X7 expenditure monitoring and surveillance action.

The Commissions said a greater synergy amongst various enforcement agencies is needed to develop a collective strategy to fight this menace.  Therefore, the Commission expects that all enforcement agencies should have proper sharing of information for taking coordinated action rather than working in silos.

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity’s Apiculture Centre Judged as India’s Best Research Center, Bags Award

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Nauni Varsity’s Apiculture Centre bags award

Solan: The apiculture research centre of the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, has again bagged the ‘Best Research Center (2016-18)’ award. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) confers the award every year.  This is the second year in a row that the centre has bagged this award.

 University’s Department of Entomology runs the Solan centre of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Honeybees and Pollinators AICRP (HB&P).

Scientists from 27 AICRP centres from across the country participated in the meet and presented their work. Three scientists from the UHF centre; Dr Harish Kumar Sharma, Dr Kiran Rana and Dr Meena Thakur also attended the meeting.

The Principal Investigator Dr Harish Sharma said that the centre is engaged in research in diversified aspects of apiculture including managed honeybee pollination, bee botany, bee breeding, honeybee disease identification and their management, and standardization of technology for hive products.

This is the only centre in the country where bumblebee rearing and its utilization in protected cultivation has been standardized.

he said.

Elaborating on the work done by the entomology department of the university, HOD Dr Divender Gupta told that the centre has been working for the overall upliftment of apiculture in the state with special emphasis on pollination management.

In addition, the centre has been providing specialized training on queen breeding and bee breeding to beekeepers from across the country including the north-east. 

In order to establish bee breeders, the scientists have been providing technical backup for production of quality queens for increasing honey production and pollination efficiency,

he added.

The award was given at the Biennial Group Meeting of AICRP (HB&P) organized by ICAR at the School of Agricultural Sciences and Rural Development, Nagaland University last week.

Dr PK Chakravarti, ADG ICAR conferred the award at the plenary session of the workshop in the presence of eminent apiculturist and former national coordinators of the AICRP (HB&P) Dr RK Thakur and Dr RC Mishra. Dr RK Thakur, who is currently serving as the Joint Director (Communication) at UHF also delivered the lead lecture during the event.

UHF VC Dr HC Sharma and Dean College of Horticulture Dr Rakesh Gupta congratulated the whole team for bringing laurels to the university.

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Misc News/Press Release

Kinnaur Avalanche: 4 Bodies Including 3 Jawans of Himachal recovered, 2 Still Missing

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Army jawans killed in avalanche in Kinnaur

Kinnaur-The search operation for the missing jawans of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, who were buried in an avalanche in Himachal Pradesh about three weeks ago, has entered its 20th day on Monday.

On February 20, 2019, an avalanche hit a patrolling party in Namgia Dogri region in Kinnaur district along the  Indo-Tibetan border. It swept away and buried six jawans of the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles.

Bilaspur Jawan Rakesh Kumar Martyred in Avalanche
Bilaspur Jawan Rakesh Kumar Martyred in Avalanche

One of the jawans – Rakesh Kumar (41) of Bilaspur district – was rescued on the same day, but succumbed to injuries on the way to Pooh hospital.

The body of Rajesh Rishi (25), a native of Nalagarh sub-division of Solan district, was recovered on March 2. It was followed by recovery of another jawan Govind Bahadur Chhetri’s body on March 4. Govind hailed from West Bengal. 

On March 9, the search team recovered the body of Rifleman Nitin Rana (27). Nitin was cremated with state and military honour on March 10 in his native village Ritt in Jaisingpur of Kangra district.  His father is an ex-serviceman, and his brother is also serving in the Indian Army.

Three of the jawans martyred hailed from Himachal.

The search operation continues and the team is likely to find two more jawans soon.

In a separate incident, Amit Kumar (29)- a Garud Commando in special forces unit of the Indian Air Force – was killed during a parachute jump in Agra on March 7, 2019.  Amit belonged to village Bussal of Kangra district. 

Almost 500 jawans of Indian-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and Army have been searching for the missing jawans since their disappearance. Villagers were also assisting in the operation. The teams are using everything from machinery, metal detectors, sniffer dogs to thermal sensing equipment to find the jawans.

A team of the Defense Research Development Organization(DRDO) also visited the site.

Meanwhile, the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF), a wing of the Indian Army, has also deployed its machinery to remove snow.

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