TODAY -

International Conference on drug situation in NE begins
Source: The Sangai Express / DIPR

Imphal, September 30 2019: Governor Dr Najma Heptulla today inaugurated the International Conference cum workshop on comprehensive approach to combat illicit trafficking of Afghan opiates and drug situation in North East, at Hotel Classic Grande, today.

The conference organized by the State Government and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office, South Asia (UNODC-ROSA).

In her introductory speech, Governor Dr Najma Heptulla said that during a discussion on the rising drug abuse cases in the North East, particularly in Manipur, the South Asia Regional Office of UNODC approached her to convene a workshop in Manipur to take stock of the current situation and formulate an action plan for the North East as part of a comprehensive action plan for South Asia Region.

She said that she initiated the interaction with the United Nations as a Member of the Parliamentary Delegation to the General Assembly after becoming a member of the Rajya Sabha, and thus her relation with the United Nations dates back to several years.



International Conference on drug situation in NE begins
International Conference on drug situation in NE begins


Stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his campaign for drug free India, had said that apart from health problems and destruction of families, narcotics trade is a threat to the safety and security of the country, the Governor said that it is the responsibility of the people, the Central Government, State Governments, Legislators and Civil Society Organizations to put heart and soul to eliminate this evil from society.

She further said that during her several visits to different parts of the State, including the border areas, she had noticed the pains and concerns, and the expectations and hopes of the people.

Besides poverty, the drug situation in the North East is equally alarming, she said, adding that a concerted action is required to reduce both the cultivation and production on the one hand and the demand and dependence on the other as there is high prevalence of drug abuse in several areas over and above the National average.

Apart from the study by AIIMS and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, a more intensive study about the cultivation and consumption of drugs in each of the eight North East States, including Sikkim, has to be carried out to devise a response to the problem effectively, she added.

If seizure reports are an indication, then a coordinated approach is required by all the countries of South Asia, the Governor reasoned.

Dr Najma Heptulla suggested UNODC to take the initiative and establish a South Asia Regional Intelligence Sharing mechanism, in addition to integrated border management mechanisms, to counter illicit trafficking as the Regional Cooperation Agency.

She also suggested UNODC to convene and conduct training and capacity building of law enforcing agencies of all the six countries under the Regional Office besides conducting authentic studies on the drug situation in the North East and added that the representatives should draw up a detailed and time-bound action plan.

Opining that India's expertise in testing drugs and precursors is well known, she added that it would be beneficial if NCB and Customs Academy take up the responsibility of training the laboratory personnel in this field to monitor the situations effectively besides controlling drugs.

It is important to have an effective precursor control programme in the region to avoid hampering of required drugs and prevent precursors from illicit drug manufacturers, she added.

The Governor stated that capacities of the law enforcing agencies of the North East States can be significantly enhanced if the Central Enforcement Agencies like NCB, ED and DRI impart their skills to the operational local State agencies in the North East.

Stakeholders from other countries of the region can also join for better coordination in future operations.

Drug related crimes keep changing and so does the need for changes in the enforcement laws, added the Governor explaining that UNODC should also consider a study of gaps in legislative provisions in the Acts, rules and regulations of the region and suggest required changes.

There is also a strong need to sensitize the law and policy makers at all levels about these issues, she added.

She further assured that she would pursue with the Speaker of Lok Sabha, who is also the President of Indian Parliamentary Group, through the Manipur Branch of the Indian Parliamentary Group to consider a Special Session of IPU in association with the UNODC at Manipur or any other suitable venue in the North East specifically focusing on drug and drug related wide range of issues which require Parliamentary intervention.

As North East touches the Golden Triangle, one of the most lucrative of the drug trade regions on the globe, India should establish interGovernmental and institutional mechanisms with neighbouring countries to counter the drug menace, she said.

The Governor recalled the announcement made by Home Minister Amit Shah, while reviewing the drug situation in the region, in the recently concluded North East Council Meeting at Guwahati, that North East should be made drug free by 2022, and asked all the Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of Police to draw up and implement an action plan to meet the challenge.

Chief Secretary Dr Suresh Babu in his speech said that Manipur has been performing well in many sectors.

Manipur stands first in checking infant mortality rate but high in drug abuse, trafficking and HIV/AIDS.

The State is facing an alarming situation as most of the drug users are found among the high school students.

The State Government, for the last 2 years, has been extensively organizing drug control programmes such as destroying poppy cultivations in almost all the hill districts.

Social organizations like youth clubs, village level youth forums, women organizations etc, which are not found in other parts of the country, are actively participating in issues concerning the society and the State as a whole, he said.

"These agencies are not able to tap the real potential and are seen mostly as troubleshooting agencies where they are trying to keep a watch on the drug users.

These agencies should try to mingle with the drug users and include them in social development.

Unless we go into the ground reality we cannot succeed and we should try to find out the ground reality first.

Social interaction is very important to fight the menace of drugs in the State.

We should start working together and engage them in controlling the situation," the Chief Secretary said.

Sergey Kapinos, Regional Representative of UNODC South Asia, LM Khaute, Director General of Police, B Radhika, Deputy Director General of NCB and Dr Atul Ambedkar, Professor, NDDTC, AIIMS, were present as presidium members of the inaugural function.

Delegates from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, top police officials and Government officials were also present at the inaugural function of the 2 day conference cum workshop.


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