Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday announced the setting up of an Advisory Board to enable detention of drug smugglers for a year without trial, as well as the creation of a separate Drug Division under the Health Department to centralize and synergise the de-addiction efforts of the government and private centres.
The measures are among a series of fresh initiative announced by the Chief Minister to take his government’s fight against drugs to the next level, an official spokesperson disclosed after a meeting to review the functioning of the Special Task Force (STF) set up to wipe out the menace of drugs from the state.
Officials posted in the respective police stations from whose jurisdiction drug seizures are made will now be held directly accountable, the Chief Minister further announced at the meeting, which saw a series of directives being issued to strengthen the government’s efforts to combat the menace and to facilitate de-addiction and rehabilitation on a bigger scale.
The proposed Advisory Board will be constituted under Prevention of Illicit Traffic (PIT) in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act with the aim of allowing detention of drug smugglers without trial for a year as well as attachment of properties of proclaimed offenders under the said Act. The Chief Minister has asked Additional Chief Secretary Home Nirmal Singh Kalsi to work out the modalities in this regard, according to the official spokesperson.
The Additional Chief Secretary Home has also been asked to convene coordination meetings with all central and neighbouring states’ enforcement agencies to effectively check cross-border smuggling of drugs into Punjab.
Stressing the need to centralise and integrate the various functions involved in promoting de-addiction in the state, the Chief Minister said the Drug Division in the Health Department will oversee the opening of new drug centres, issuance of licences to private de-addiction centres and distribution of the necessary drugs in government hospitals. The Division will be headed by a Secretary.
The Chief Minister has further asked Additional Chief Secretary Health Satish Chandra to simplify the licensing procedure for private de-addiction centers to strengthen the framework for weaning youth away from drugs.
The Chief Minister has also directed STF Chief Mohammad Mustafa to regularly update him on the progress of the anti-drug campaign launched by the State Government, while asking his Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar and ACS Home to hold a meeting every fortnight to review the progress in this regard.
Emphasizing the need to create awareness amongst the people about the ongoing efforts to check drug abuse, the Chief Minister asked the Deputy Commissioners, Commissioners of Police, Inspectors General of Police of different ranges & STF and SSPs to undertake regular field visits, especially in rural and border areas, for reviewing the progress of DAPO and Buddy programme, besides seeking feedback and inputs from the common people.
Captain Amarinder has also suggested involvement of the Guardians of Governance to ensure massive public participation to motivate the youth to abstain from drugs. He underlined the need for involvement of people at grassroots level and stressed that unique programmes like DAPO and Buddy would be instrumental in strengthening the state government’s efforts to save future generations from the drug menace.
STF Chief Mohammad Mustafa informed the meeting that the STF, District Police and the State Special Operation Cell (SSOC) had successfully ensured strict enforcement, resulting in the arrest of 13756 persons till December 24, 2018, besides massive recovery of narcotics, including heroin 381.2 kg, opium 370.1 kg and poppy husk 38739.4 kg, in addition to seizure of 60805 injections and 76.77 lakh pills/capsules.
Satish Chandra apprised the meeting about the preventive measures taken by the Health Department and disclosed that 166 OOAT clinics were functional across the state. In these, 59,993 patients had been registered, of which as many as 56,380 re-visited the clinics, thus registering a retention rate of 93.97 percent. He said that till date 1.17 crore tablets of Buprenorphine have been given to the patients coming for de-addiction. The number of the OATS centers would be enhanced to 200 by the end of March 2019, he added.
CEO DAPO Rahul Tiwari disclosed that approximately 40 lakh students would be covered under the programme and nearly 3 lakh school teachers/college lecturers would be trained soon by 329 master trainers already trained by STF. He also informed that 4.9 lakh DAPOs were already registered for creating awareness about the ill-effects of drugs. These included 75000 official volunteers and 4.15 lakh citizen volunteers.
Prominent amongst others present in the meeting were DGP Suresh Arora, DGP Law and Order Hardeep Singh Dhillon, Special Principal Secretary to CM Harpreet Sidhu, Secretary Home Kumar Rahul, IGs Parmod Ban, RK Jaiswal, B Chandershekhar, Balkar Singh Sidhu and DIG SK Rampal.>