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PTI

The opposition BJP and Congress on Wednesday held the BJD government's policies responsible for the growth in the number of liquor and drug addicts in the state.

The allegation was made by the opposition members in the state Assembly while participating in a debate on the admissibility of an adjournment motion on Odisha dips in drugs and liquor; who will protect poor women .

Rejecting the claims, the ruling BJD elaborated on the steps the state government has taken to stop the menace of drug and liquor addiction.

Initiating the debate, Opposition Chief Whip Mohan Majhi of the BJP accused the state government of adopting a double standard on its policies.

He said, "The chief minister (Naveen Patnaik) has been claiming to be a strict follower of Mahatma Gandhi's ideologies. Then, how does his government encourage sale of liquor in the state? How is the state overflowed with contraband drugs and become the centre of cannabis cultivation?

Majhi claimed that Odisha ranks third in the country in terms of drug use.

In the state, 31 per cent of people aged between 10 and 75 years are addicted to liquor or any other contraband while 10.4 per cent of the total population is addicted to the consumption of alcohol. On the other hand, ganja and brown sugar smuggling in the state is growing unabated, he said.

Making allegations of an unholy nexus between the officials and excise offenders, Majhi said that use of liquor and drugs has pushed the future of the youth into darkness.

He pointed out that while Rs 7,600 crore was collected as excise revenue in the 2021-22 fiscal, the state has set a target to generate Rs 8,500 crore in 2022-23 from liquor.

He claimed the state government's programmes aiming at preventing addiction to liquor and other contrabands among youth have failed.

Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati alleged that the ganja trade in the state is going on unabated and this was possible due to support of the ruling party leaders.

Congress legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra alleged that the use of liquor and drugs is growing as the excise department is embroiled in corruption.

Defending the state government, Excise Minister Ashwini Patra said that alcohol and drug use affects people's health, financial status and wealth.

Keeping this in mind, awareness is being created at the district levels across the state on June 26 each year, he said.

He informed the House that four Excise Intelligence Agencies are operating in the state to crack down on mafias.

This apart, there are teams at various levels which are functioning round the clock, Patra said.

He also said that for the first time, drone surveys were conducted in cannabis cultivation-prone districts.

Ganja plantations worth Rs 3,29,14,032 grown on a total of 19,774.63 acres of government and forest land were destroyed by the department, the minister said.

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