Ukhrul: Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL), the Tangkhul apex body, took up an initiative in observing Green Day and conducting Consultation Workshop on opium poppy plantation to address the public with respect to the increasing activities on deforestation and rise in poppy cultivation and the need for intervention to take into account the social, economic, environmental, spiritual, psychological and political dimension with long term investment.
TNL, different units of TSL, TKS, TMNL, representative of NSCN-IM, members of town churches, Police department, Health Department, Forest department, NPF and BJP political parties, NGOs and media were present in the workshop.
Shangam Shelly, IFS. DFO, Ukhrul Div. and SW Suisa, DFO, Kamjong Div. exhorted the program in the 1st session and appealed the public to take up action in bringing awareness to preserve and to plant more trees.
Shelly appreciated the TNL for choosing to observe Green Day on May instead of the usual tree plantation ‘Man Mahotsava’ which is observed on first week of July. He said that the best time for tree plantation in our place is during the month of May. He appreciated TNL for the timely Green Day observation and also encouraged everyone to plant as many trees as possible. He informed that, their department will support in whatever ways possible.
SW Suisa enlightened the public on the process of growth of plants, the connection between plants and animals, the food chain and importance of forest for human and living beings as a whole. He said he had appealed the government to encourage and fund the thriving forest to preserve them in the best ways, instead of taking up plantation in the plain as it was already neglected.
Just before moving into 2nd session of the day, tree plantation was carried out in a coordinated manner by David K Shimray, president TNL; Worngam Ningshen, IPS, DIG; DFOs of Ukhrul and Kamjong Division and Rev. Ayonsui Shingnaisui, in TNL office compound.
Worngam Ningshen, IPS, DIG Intelligent Narcotics Bureau and Wungramthan Shongzan, Director TTA were the resource persons in the 2nd session, Consultation on Opium Poppy Plantation.
Congratulating TNL for organizing the event, Ningshen said that he had come across several CSOs but none of them observed Green Day like this. He maintained that this is indeed a good initiative.
Addressing the topic ‘Legal perspective on poppy plantation’, Worngam Ningshen said, “The will power of cultivating poppy plant is so strong that we need another strong will power to fight against it”.
Worngam Ningshen: Poppy plantation is illegal by law. Basically there are two laws enacted by parliament against such activities. To run a government or democracy, it cannot be done in haphazard without proper procedure. Along with the laws made, there are certain rules to follow and they are carefully enacted. That is why during a Parliamentary or even in court, the process is time consuming and our patience may run out at times but this is supposedly the rule of law.
NDPS Act, 1985 (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance) is enacted by parliament and destroying of poppy plantation by police force is taken up under this act. Under Section 8, prohibition of certain operation is mentioned “No person shall cultivate opium poppy or any cannabis plant” and under Section 8 (c), it further mentions produce, manufacture, possess, sell, purchase, transport, warehouse, use, consume, import interstate, export interstate, import into India, export from India or transit any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance except for medical or scientific purpose and in the manner into the extend provided by the provisions of this act.
The punishment under NDPS Act, 1985 for contravention in relation to Poppy and Opium shall be punishable, for small quantity, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine. In case of commercial quantity, the punishment shall be imprisonment for 10 years which may extend to 20 years.
Punishment for allowing premises to be used for commission of an offense mentions that the owner of the land, or renting of room, automobile or any property, while being aware of the offense, shall also be punishable.
According to NDPS Act, 1985, Section 46 – Duty of land holder to give information of illegal cultivation; Every holder of land shall give immediate information to any officer of the police or of any of the departments mentioned regarding opium, poppy, cannabis plant or coca plant which may be illegally cultivated within his land and every holder knowingly neglects to give such information, shall be liable to punishment.
Business in narcotics, mainly Poppy is growing tremendously. “Poppy is not indigenous to our land”, he remarked.
Government of India as well as Government of Manipur takes this issue seriously like PM Modi’s campaign “Nasha Mukh Bharat”. There are Narcotic Coordination Centres in central and state, even in district level to coordinate with the issue.
According to 2021-22 conservative survey, the total acre of poppy plantation is 6742 acre with Ukhrul District in the 2nd top position of 2040 acre and Kamjong at 240 acre. There are total 9 districts cultivating poppy in Manipur. Around 3000 acre was destroyed in the year 2021-22 but due to election duty they could not destroy more.
This poppy issue is not only a legal issue, but it is also a social-economical-religious and modern issue. Regarding economical issue, there is a saying, “Bad money drive out good money”. This drug money is bad/black money being circulated in our place. Due to this, mainly the real estate price is going up.
Religiously, it is advisable to discourage the practice of narcotic plantation or usage. In churches, members are excommunicate when they elope or commit adultery. The churches should also think about these activities as apostasy. As this is the same as abandonment or renunciation of one’s belief. This should also be considered for excommunication.
For alternative livelihood or means of living, government has provided NREGS (which gives around 23k yearly), health card, free education for the children, mid day meal, PDS for providing minimum price for rice and with these provisions alone, a family can sustain their livelihood with proper functioning of the schools or NREGS and others. There are lots of opportunity and chances in horticulture according to government’s plan in doubling farmer’s income.
We should concentrate on horticulture as there are lots of opportunities in it, to be self sufficient in food or fruits. Reclaim land from the poppy cultivation and plant fruit trees, Worngam Ningshen IPS asserted.
Wungramthan Shonzan gave resources on the topic ‘Creation care – A Biblical Perspective. “If we dont have a moral stand, we cannot accomplish anything. It is proved by history”, he said.
wungramthan said if each and every single one of us could have the biblical conviction, knowing what you ought to do and knowing very well the relationship between you and God, there would not be much problem in dealing with this issue. “Most of the problems in the world are not because of the act of the rascal but because of the inactivity of the good people”, he quoted from a book he read.
The program ended with a discussion hour followed by a vote of thanks from Ramnganing, President TNWL and a closing prayer invoked by Paul Kashung, Catechist St. Andrew Church.
TNL implemented a policy of forest preservation and began the observation on Green Day from 2015 with Achan Luirei as the secretary.
The cultivation of opium poppy (Papaver Somniferum) and drug use is said to have far reaching effect in the society in many spheres such as health, psychology, environment, spirituality and social institutions with second generation issues. Opium cultivation although lucrative is said to compromise the long term benefits of health, environment, social harmony and spirituality with short term economic gain and also compete with food crops by replacing the age old agricultural knowledge which enhances family food security and thereby health security.