‘Problem of drugs quite serious in Punjab’

Chandigarh, Feb 23 (IANS) The problem of drugs was surging in Punjab, which is one of the major transit point for drug peddlers, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) that coordinates various drugs law enforcement agencies of the country, said Tuesday.

‘The problem of drugs is quite serious in Punjab, although it is not the originating point of drugs but contraband is coming here form various states like Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir,’ O.P.S. Malik, NCB director general, told reporters here.

He added: ‘Because of its critical location, Punjab has emerged as a major transit point of drugs. Our reports say that maximum recovery was made from Punjab in the last few months. The BSF (Border Security Force) that guards the international border (in Punjab) is very efficient but still there are gaps which cannot be fenced.’

Punjab range BSF mans the 553-km fenced international border with Pakistan. The officials said nearly 35 to 40 per cent of all-India seizures of heroin comes from Afghanistan through the Pakistan border.

Malik said Punjab was also leading in composite seizures in which agencies seized contraband along with counterfeit currency and weapons.

‘Since 2004, we have registered cases of composite seizures only in Punjab and Rajasthan. Thirteen such cases have been registered in Punjab while seven cases were reported in Rajasthan,’ he pointed out.

Talking about the overall contraband market, Malik said: ‘We only have estimated figures which say that the annual countrywide transaction of contraband in the retail market is of Rs.2,000 crore and in the wholesale market, it is of Rs.850 crore.’

‘It is very difficult to find exact figures but normally we assume our seizures as only one-tenth of the total market,’ he added.

Malik was in Chandigarh to attend the regional coordination committee meeting of north zone’s enforcement agencies.

Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh were also invited in the meeting as a huge chunk of contraband comes from these two states in the area.

It was also for the first time that the NCB invited two NGOs, which work against drug menace, in the meeting.

‘We have drawn a tentative action plan to improve the coordination between different drug law enforcement agencies and to effectively share information and intelligence inputs.’

‘We also deliberated on the need to identify the operators, both individual and gangs, and to inter-exchange their data-base,’ said Malik.

He said the possibility of including the bad effects of drugs in schools’ syllabus to sensitise the youngsters about the issue was also discussed.

‘We would also take up this issue with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE),’ stated Malik.

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