TODAY -

'War on drugs' campaign winnable with full-scale battle
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: January 16, 2023 -



WITHOUT an iota of doubt, besides improvement in the law-and-order situation there has been significant progress in diverse sectors under the present government.

While near-total absence of incidents related to insurgency and socio-ethnic issues since the formation of the BJP government is itself a huge achievement, the credit for bringing such positive changes in the state should go to chief minister N Biren for reaching out to people even in the remotest parts of the state, making the people believe that better days are ahead and more importantly ensuring that there is dissident-free governance in-spite of political one-upmanship at the start of his second innings.

To the government detractors it is obvious that Manipur bagging the India Today Group's 'Most Improved Small State Overall' title for the third consecutive year might be perceived as hogwash or undeserving but the fact remains that no previous governments had won such acclaim from a reputed establishment like the India Today Group.

When compared with larger and industrially and agriculturally thriving states Manipur is nowhere in the picture but securing the top honour among the smaller states in the India Today's annual assessment exercise implies that Manipur has started striding towards socio-economic development, and which will be unstoppable in case there is socio-ethnic tranquillity.

Moreover, the state receiving the title on account of its performances in eight out of 12 parameters such as economy, infrastructure, agriculture, health, governance, entrepreneurship, tourism, and cleanliness signify that the present government is making full use of the return of peace.

With exception of the cleanliness and agriculture parameters, not many would argue about the progress being experienced in the state.

Nevertheless, as stated by chief minister N Biren during the state level celebration function under the 'Emerging Manipur' theme on Sunday, there are still issues and challenges that the government should be worried about.

Among the tasks in hand for the Biren government, tackling the menace of poppy plantations would not only remain a headache but will also dilute all the achievements earned so far as any sign of administrative lapses and indecision in bringing to justice the poppy cultivators would only project the state in the wrong light.

It is also possible that the ministries concerned might be hesitant to splurge funds for developmental purpose if the state government cannot win the 'war against drugs' campaign at the soonest possible, especially taking into account of the fact that the Prime Minister and the Union home minister are determined to end the drug abuse problem.

As such, as had been mentioned in this column in the past, the state government must galvanise all available resources to not only destroy the poppy plantations and penalise whoever is found involved or abetting the illegal practice for it is crystal clear that not many villages are impressed with the government's assurance of providing alternative means of livelihood to the poppy planters.

While the government's decision to use drones for surveillance of poppy cultivation areas and helicopters for afforestation is commendable, deployment of security personnel, including from the police crammed valley areas, on rotational basis should be explored.

The chopper flights, if any, may also be used to drop pamphlets in local languages in villages close to poppy fields to forewarn against poppy cultivation or remind the villagers that they are at risk of losing benefits of various schemes for aiding unscrupulous elements amass wealth.



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