In one of the biggest destruction operations conducted, officials of the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) destroyed 1032 hectares (12,900 bighas) of illicit cannabis (ganja) cultivation in Himachal Pradesh in over two weeks, the Finance Ministry said.
It may be noted that the CBN had earlier conducted similar operation in the hills of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh in the Northeast region apart from other states such as West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarkhand. It resulted in destruction of over 25,000 hectares of illicit cultivation of Opium and Cannabis over the years. The CBN had also destroyed approximately 3,600 hectares of Illicit Opium in Arunachal Pradesh in February and March 2022, the ministry said in a release.
The ministry said that following specific intelligence inputs about illicit cannabis (ganja) cultivation in Himachal Pradesh, CBN officials carried out physical surveys resulting in detection of more areas of illicit cultivation. Subsequently, cannabis destruction operation was started with the support of the district administration, forest department and the police, it said.
The officers climbed daily up to 11,000 feet above sea level and even camped in sensitive areas to expedite the destruction of illicit cultivation of cannabis, the ministry stated.
During the operation, CBN adopted a two-pronged approach of creating awareness among villagers along with enforcement, the release stated. It said four teams of CBN officials were simultaneously allotted different areas of operation and given the flexibility to work jointly in certain areas with large illicit cultivation of cannabis.
The teams of officials also adopted a community mobilisation by sensitising villagers about adverse effects of drugs on body and mind. Threats that drugs tend to pose to the future of youth and children were explained. Relevant penal provisions of the NDPS Act were also explained to village pradhans and members, consequent to which resolutions were passed by villagers to destroy illicit cannabis plantations around the villages, the ministry stated.
Villagers assisted the officals in destroying illicit ganja cultivation by actively taking part in exercise under supervision of CBN officers, it said, adding later on, DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence) officials also joined the operation.
The ministry also stated that officials from the Forest department, Revenue and the Police department also accompanied the four teams during operations in light of sensitive nature of operation. It is noteworthy to mention that since this is a season of apple & pomegranate harvesting, labour availability was a problem but it failed to deter the grit and determination of CBN teams which swung into action and conducted destruction operation in hostile terrain with steep slopes and rains.
GPS coordinates were used to tag / mark the sensitive locations and DRONES were used for detection and surveillance of the illicit cannabis (ganja) cultivation areas which resulted in greater success of the entire operation, the ministry said.
“Mission Crackdown shall continue with same vigour in other parts of the country and CBN is fully committed against the Drug Menace” said Rajesh F Dhabre, Narcotics Commissioner, Central Bureau of Narcotics.
Active support in terms of logistics and manpower was provided throughout the operation by the Office of Dist. Collector, CCF and SP Kullu and DRI.
The CBN is the Apex Drug Law Enforcement Agency under Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India tasked with identification and destruction of illicit cultivation of cannabis and Opium along with its other responsibilities.
The CBN intends to continue such destruction operations of illicit cultivation across India in future as well.