Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday announced special drives against the drug menace in the state by involving students, besides launching the second phase of a loan waiver scheme for farmers.

Speaking during Independence Day celebrations organised at the Guru Nanak Stadium here, the Chief Minister launched ‘Tu Mera Buddy’ programme to take the war against drugs to schools and colleges.

He called upon the people to take a pledge to wipe out the menace of drugs from the state to secure the healthy future of the coming generation.

Lauding the results of police’s Special Task Force to check drug abuse in the state, the Chief Minister said ‘Tu Mera Buddy’ would further take the campaign to the grassroots.

The buddy project will be led by class teachers and will be supervised by principals and district education officers.

The Chief Minister reiterated his government’s zero tolerance against drugs and warned that those involved in exploiting and ruining the youth would not be spared.

Nearly 20,000 cases have been registered under the NDPS Act, involving about 22,000 drug peddlers and distributors, while the state is working to ensure forfeiture of illegally acquired property of drug traders and to secure death penalty for them, said the Chief Minister.

Expressing satisfaction over the positive results of 118 Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) Clinics started in the State for regular treatment of addicts, the Chief Minister said another 80 such clinics would be set up by September.

He said 26,000 addicts have been treated so far in these clinics and the OPD footfall has been more than 5.3 lakh.

Unveiling the Bhai Ghanhya Sehat Sewa Scheme, the Chief Minister handed over cards to some of the beneficiaries of the scheme, aimed at providing cashless healthcare facilities and treatment to members of the cooperative societies and their families across the state.

Every beneficiary is entitled to cashless treatment up to Rs 2 lakh on family floater basis in any approved hospital and on reimbursement basis in any government hospital in Punjab.

Launching the second phase of the debt waiver scheme, the Chief Minister handed over waiver certificates to 10 farmers to extend to them the benefit of outstanding loan waiver of commercial banks up to Rs 2 lakh.

The debt waiver scheme would cover crop loan disbursed to farmers by scheduled commercial banks, cooperative credit institutions, including urban cooperative banks and regional rural banks, collectively called as the alending institutions’.

The Chief Minister said these farmers were expected to be provided total relief of Rs 1,000 crore.

In order to manage the crop residue, the Chief Minister kickstarted a scheme to provide subsidised agri machinery, which would be helpful to curb the trend of stubble burning.

Singh earlier unfurled the national flag at the event where more than 2,000 students participated.