Saturday, July 11, 2009

Over 1 crore hemp plants destroyed last year

Express News Service First Published : 12 Jul 2009 03:14:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 12 Jul 2009 09:54:17 AM IST

BHUBANESWAR: The excise administration in the State claimed to have detected and destroyed over 1.15 crore hemp plants last year. The estimated value of the plants destroyed has been put at Rs 1,158.43 crore at Rs 1,000 per plant.

The highest number of 95 lakh hemp plants with a value of Rs 950 crore were destroyed in the Naxalite-affected Malkangiri district. Hemp plants worth over Rs 74 crore were also destroyed in Gajapati district which also has a strong presence of Left wing extremists.

Other districts where rampant cultivation of hemp were detected include Angul, Sambalpur, Boudh, Ganjam, Kandhamal, Malkangiri, Nuapada, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Nayagarh and Deogarh.

Ganja cultivation has increased manifold in the Western Orissa districts of Sambalpur and Deogarh where the Naxalites are trying to have a foothold. Hemp plants worth Rs 60 crore were destroyed in these two districts.

Increased ganja cultivation and its transportation to Chhattisgarh clandestinely have been worrying the law and order authorities in the State as this has become a major source of funding for the Naxalites.

As the Excise Department is mostly preoccupied with detection and control of manufacture and sale of spurious liquor, other issues are neglected. The Assembly standing committee on the Excise Department headed by former minister Bijoyshree Routray took note of the vacancy situation in its report for 2009-10.

The Committee maintained that because of shortage of staff, enforcement has failed to be effective even though the Department is contributing Rs 850 crore per annum to the state exchequer. It wondered why the staff strength at the field level is not being increased.

Stating that the field administration should be strengthened by creation of more posts as per the requirement, the committee recommended that all vacancies in the department should be filled up expeditiously.

Underscoring the need for proper training for excise staff, it said that the department should have its own training institute in line with the police training institute. A proposal has been submitted to the Thirteenth Finance Commission (TFC) in this connection which is pending. The Committee recommended that necessary budget provision should be made to establish excise training facilities.

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