Seminar on War On Drugs held: Quest To End Poppy Cultivation

Out of 98 revenue villages under Ukhrul District, around 65 villages attended the seminar and took a solemn pledge against illegal poppy cultivation and to contribute and give the best effort to create a drug free community.

Ukhrul: The District Administration of Ukhrul in collaboration with Churches, CSOs and NGOs operating in Ukhrul District organised a one day seminar on the War on Drugs at UBC Jubilee Hall, Ukhrul.

Out of 98 revenue villages under Ukhrul District, around 65 villages attended the seminar and took a solemn pledge against illegal poppy cultivation and to contribute and give best effort to create a drug free community.

Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul, Kengoo Zuringla earnestly appealed everyone to put an end to poppy cultivation in Ukhrul District. She said, “We must act now and ensure save and secure environment for the coming future generations. What is our gain if our children and grandchildren and entire generations to come is to inherit a place infested with pest, insects and chemicals? Let us leave a good legacy, a favourable environment for our coming children.”

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DC Ukhrul expressed immense gratitude to resource persons, Tangkhul CSOs, Church Leaders, NGOs and village leaders for participating in the seminar.

SP of Ukhrul, Ningshem Vashum deliberated on the topic “Offences and Penalty under NDPS Act 1985”. He said that “in India, opium, poppy cultivation is prohibited under Section 8 of the Narcotics Drugs And Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.”

SP Ningshem Vashum informed that “the Government has clearly instructed the concerned district police and other agencies to keep a vigil on clandestine opium and poppy cultivation in specific area in their respective district. Due to huge market demands, high returns and the short duration of poppy growing seasons that do not clash with traditional farming have made the cultivation a lucrative business worth risk-taking and has lured many farmers to go for poppy cultivation. The talk of alternative crops or means of livelihood seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Therefore, the support and involvement of church leaders, village headmen, women leaders, youth leaders and NGOs as stakeholders are needed in the fight against illegal opium poppy cultivation.”

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DFO of Ukhrul, Shanngam Shaliwo stated that “inhalation and through ingestion of fertilisers, insecticides, and pesticides can do much damage to the human body. Farmers are using harmful chemicals as a means for high yielding of varietieies especially at poppy cultivation. These kinds of chemicals have a serious impact on the health conditions of human beings. At what cost are we trying to earn more income ? Large scale deforestation has resulted in the scarcity of waters and other unwanted impacts. Let us stop before it is too late. Let us take social responsibility in bringing the state of forest like that existed before the invasion of poppy cultivation in Ukhrul District.”

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Ukhrul District Aids Control Officer (DACO), Dr. Yuithingla Vashum elaborated on the poppy plantation and effects on health. “The use of pesticides in poppy cultivation causes rashes, stinging eyes, blisters, blindness, nausea, diarrhea etc. Chemical fertilisers effects kidney, lung and liver. Nitrate contaminated water causes blood disorders and other diseases like alzheimer, infertility, habitual abortion and all types of cancer.” She also highlighted the drug abuse scenario in Ukhrul and Kamjong. She informed that “there are 2800 estimated drug users and a reported overdose cases of 96 in 2022 and 85 cases in 2023 (January – August). There are 550 Active OST clients and 1920 ART clients (1849 from Ukhrul and 71 from Kamjong). There is death report of 237 male ART clients, 126 female and 19 children, a total of 382 death reports.”

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Speeches were also divered by President of Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long, SA. Ramnganing, President of Tangkhul Mayar Ngala Long, Themmaso Tallanao, Chief Functionary of CARE Ukhrul, Columbus Leisan, Pastor UBC, Rev. Remember Rimai and President of Tangkhul Shanao Long, Thingreiphy Lungharwoshi.

The members present took a pledge to solemnly work for complete eradication of illegal poppy cultivation and other illicit drug business in any area of their respective jurisdiction. “We will support and contribute our best efforts to create a drugfree community. We pledge that we will keep ourselves, our family and our loved ones from influence of drugs for a safe and healthy society,” the members pledged.

The seminar was also attended by ADC/ADM Ukhrul, Nimmi A Khamrang, Assistant Commissioner cum SDO LM Block, A. Rohini Kumar, SDO Ukhrul and Chingai, Suranjoy Maibam Singh and DLOs.

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