By Rizwan Arif
Ranchi (Jharkhand) [India], September 21 (ANI): Illicit opium cultivated in Jharkhand is in high demand in states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and western parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Jharkhand has become a major source of the contraband due to the low price of the opium as compared to the opium produced in northeastern states and smuggled through Indo-Pak international borders.
KPS Malhotra, Deputy Director NCB (Operation) said, "The main reason is illicit cultivation of opium which is facilitated by the topography of the state. These cultivations are done in dense forest areas mostly under the control of the insurgent group. All India inter-connectivity and low price compared to illicit opium produced in northeastern states and smuggled through Indo-Pak international borders are other factors."
Malhotra said in the recent past, NCB and other concerned agencies including the Jharkhand police have destroyed acres of opium fields. However, he did not confirm if any Naxal outfits are supporting opium cultivation or not.
Recently NCB had launched a systemic investigation to ascertain the financial trail and explore any possible Naxal connection in recent seizures.
"Hotspot districts for illicit cultivation of opium are Chatra, Khunti, Latehar, and Palamu in Jharkhand. To date, no such name (Naxal Outfit) has appeared, but the regions where these illicit cultivations are undertaken are mostly Naxal affected," Malhotra added.
The NCB is regularly conducting operations to curb opium cultivation in Naxal dominated regions and has made a blueprint to help farmers' for alternative crop production. An alternative development plan for farmers who have been engaged in illicit opium cultivation is under process. Soon the engaged farmers will be made aware of an alternative source of livelihood or farming. (ANI)