Drive against ganja cultivation continues amid stiff resistance

The excise and prohibition officials are going ahead with the special drive to destroy the ganja plantations in the Agency areas Visakhapatnam district, despite the stiff resistance from the tribal people. The drive was launched around two months ago with the aim of curbing ganja smuggling in the Agency and its surrounding areas and according to officials, ganja plantations in 54 acres were destroyed by the second week of January. “Raids are on with the support of the teams of officials of the ITDA, forest, revenue, police departments. Daily wagers have been hired to destroy the plantations,” a senior official of Excise and Prohibition Department said. An action plan has been prepared and teams are being sent to villages. Paderu, Chintapalle, G. Madugula, GK Veedhi, Dumbriuguda, Munchingputtu, Araku, Hukumpeta, Rolugunta mandals have been the targeted mandals, he added. Tough task at hand According to sources, the special teams are facing a tough time to carry out the operations owing to a stiff resistance from tribal people. However, the officials are tight-lipped about the details of the operations, keeping the information confidential. “Last year, there were a few attacks on police vehicles. As per credible information, plans are being made by ganja smugglers to stop us. So, the drive is being conducted confidentially as a precautionary measure. We have destroyed 54 acres of ganja plantations in just two months,” an excise officer from Paderu Circle said. Satellite imagery According to a senior excise official in Visakhapatnam, drones are being used to identify ganja plantations in the hilly terrain, apart from satellite imagery and drives are being conducted accordingly. The excise teams also claim that they did not find any more ganja plantations in Paderu, Chintapalle and G. Madugula mandals. “Last year, almost 80 % of ganja plantations were destroyed. This year, the remaining mandals are under scanner,” the official said. “Destruction of ganja plantations has brought down the smuggling cases in Visakhapatnam Agency. The campaigns should continue every year to nip the issue in the bud. Meanwhile, awareness programmes on the ill-effect of ganja cultivation are also being conducted by the state government officials simultaneously,” the official said on the condition of anonymity. Last year, 152 ganja smuggling cases were booked when compared to the 212 in 2017. About 16,000 kg of ganja was seized last year as against the 31,648 kg in the previous year, the official added.

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