New Delhi: Dibrugarh and Aizawl districts of Northeast have made it to the Centre’s proposed plan to adopt 15 districts in the country, on a pilot basis, aimed at implementing an action plan for de-addiction and making the districts drug-free.
The proposal assumes significance for the Northeast as the region accounts for a very high percentage of the total youths in the country affected by drug addiction. As per reports, 65 people died of drug abuse in 2017 in Mizoram. According to official figures, another Northeastern state, Manipur, accounts for the highest percentage of female injecting drug users (28.2%) among all Northeastern states.
Easy availability of narcotics and other banned substances in the region, owing to the porous border with neighboring Myanmar, which, along with Thailand and Laos, forms the infamous “Golden Triangle”, can be attributed as one the main reasons for drug-addiction in the region. Other reasons are unemployment, poverty, insurgency (which often resorts to drug trafficking to finance its weapons purchase), illicit cultivation of opium in remote areas, among others.
In other parts of the country such as Himachal Pradesh, cultivation of cannabis plant is a widespread practice in the remote and hilly areas, with the law-enforcement agencies often turning a blind eye to the illicit cultivation due to corruption in their ranks.
The proposed pilot project, sent to the Cabinet by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, also asks for regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) sale of sedatives and pain killers, often used as recreational drugs due to their easy availability and their sedative affects.
The draft proposes upgrading of existing “de-addiction centres” in these selected districts to “treatment clinics” and provide for both inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities.
It also proposes setting up of de-addiction centres in 25 factories and major industrial establishments, 25 prisons, 25 juvenile homes and 25 separate de-addiction centres for women in prisons.