Amid rise in cases of drug abuse, Himachal Pradesh has claimed to have worked out a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the issue by asking all departments to join hands. A high-level meeting on the growing malaise was convened here under the chairmanship of chief secretary Vineet Chawdhry on Tuesday.

“The government is committed to check smuggling and misuse of intoxicants in the state. Besides, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur in a recent cabinet meeting directed that apart from taking strict action against drug peddlers, an awareness campaign be initiated especially for school and college students,” Chawdhry said.

He said the Education Department would start a special campaign for students to apprise them about the ill effects of drugs. Under the campaign, teachers would be trained in District Institute of Education Training (DIET) and State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) to sensitise them about drug abuse so that they can make students become better aware of the harmful effects.

“In order to create awareness amongst students about the ill effects of drugs,” the chief secretary said, “painting, lectures and debate competitions will be organised in schools.”

Furthermore, the subject will be included in school curriculum in coming years,” Chawdhry said. He added creating awareness about prevention of narcotics and other intoxicants would also be included under the ‘Akhand Shiksha Jyoti, Mere School Se Nikle Moti’ scheme.

In the near future, a 10-point oath related to drugs would also be administered to children in morning assemblies across the state and the annual calendar would be prepared to make them aware about the ill effects of drugs, he announced. The calendar would include monthly programmes related to prevention of drugs.

Chawdhry said Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Forest departments would be engaged in cannabis eradication campaign. Help of Mahila Mandals, Yuvak Mandals and NGOs would be sought, he elaborated.
During the course of the “massive campaign”, cannabis on both government and private lands would be eradicated, he hoped.

Chawdhry instructed officers of Agriculture Department to look into the possibility of alternative farming to replace cannabis cultivation. He also directed Health Department to open drug de-addiction centres.

Chawdhry directed Social Justice and Empowerment Department to take necessary action to establish rehabilitation centres. The Narcotics Act would be enforced strictly and border areas would be closely monitored to keep a strict vigil on drug smuggling, he declared.

“In the near future a meeting of senior officers of Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Jammu Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh will be organised and a joint task force will be formed to stop smuggling of narcotics. A toll free helpline ‘104’ will be strengthened to provide information about the ill effects drug abuse,” Chawdhry informed.