As the world gears up to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse on Friday, India’s premier anti-narcotics agency, NCB, has been working without a regular chief for close to four months.
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is the apex national agency, under the command of the Union Home Ministry to implement anti-drugs laws in the country and is mandated to coordinate action of various law enforcement agencies working in this domain.
Records show the post of NCB’s director general has been vacant since February after incumbent Rajiv Mehta was appointed the DGP of Meghalaya. The additional charge of this post is being handled in an additional capacity, since April 1, by Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry, Ashok Prasad.
What has brought stagnation in the overall operations and intelligence gathering mechanism task of the agency has been the fact that even two of its second-in-command senior posts, at its headquarters here, are lying vacant.
While Deputy Director General B B Misra retired from service in March, another officer in the same rank, A K Jaiswal has been repatriated to his parent cadre in the Income-Tax Department about two months ago.
Sources said while the Home Ministry had constituted a panel of two senior IPS officers to be considered for the post sometime back, no final decision has been taken for appointing the Director General, which has now started affecting the work of the organisation.
Interestingly, the NCB chief is also an important member of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on black money and since Mehta’s retirement, other senior officials have been representing the agency in the meetings of the high-powered panel.
Sources added that without a regular DG for the agency, the work is surely hit and a number of decisions are taking more than the usual time to get approvals.
The issue assumes significance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed his concern over the abuse of drugs in the country and the "devastating" effect that drug addiction was leading to, especially among youngsters.
In his third ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme on radio last year in December, Modi had said the menace is a "national pain" and drugs should be shunned.
The post of NCB DG is a Additional Director General (ADG) rank post in the Centre and senior civil service officers from the IPS, IAS and IRS are eligible for it.