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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Not the junkst, it's the fad for beer that has pushed Odisha to figure among the 'high' twenty states in the country.

And the alarming fact is there are few jingled consumers in State as Odisha figured among the top-10 States in country where the boozers need medical or psychiatric intervention for alcohol-related problems.

According to a Union Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment report titled 'Magnitude of Substance Use in India - 2019',  Odisha figured as 17th top alcohol consuming state among the 36 states and UTs in the country. A high of 31.8 per cent of population in the age-group of 10-75 years in the State are current alcohol users.

But the shocker is when it comes to people needing health/psychic intervention over alcohol related problems, the State breaks into the 'high' top-10 league. Odisha finished 8th, where 21 lakh alcohol consumers urgently need such interventions, revealed the Union Ministry report.

More lethal fact to fore is, in the indicator of prevalence of alcohol disorders in 10-75 years age-group, Odisha again figured in the dubious 'high' ten states. The Survey revealed that nearly six per cent in Odisha show such symptoms.

Though the Union Ministry report put both the IMFL (Indian made Foreign Liquor) and strong Beer as the top favourites of boozers nationally, a glance at the data available with State Excise department revealed that it's the Beer that is the favourite in Odisha.

In the year 2018-19, the provisional figures pegged the liquor consumption in Odisha at around 1,300 lakh litres. The per capita alcohol consumption has now grown to around 3-4 litres vis-a-vis of mere 700ml in 2001-02. And when beer consumption had grown four-fold, the IMFL grew only by 3-times during the period. Sources in Odisha liquor retailers association put the per capita beer consumption in State at around 2 litres.

A district-wise glance reveals that the State Headquarters Khurda topped the beer/IMFL binge-chart in the State. And Ganjam is giving a close-chase to Khurda.

Sources revealed that Kalahandi and Bolangir are emerging as new 'spirited-up' districts in the State. The liquor consumption is racing up fast here, it added. As per State Excise department data, in overall liquor consumption, including country spirit, Mayurbhanj and its surrounding districts topped the State.

An interesting fact here is, incidentally, Mayurbhanj topped the State in rapes for decades.

The Union Ministry Survey has thrown light on Odisha's 'addiction' with other narcotic drugs like cannabis (Ganja) and Opioids like opium and synthetic drugs.

As per the survey, with around 4.9 lakh Ganja users in the age-group of 10-75 years needing medical intervention or counselling, Odisha figured third in the country. The State is behind Punjab and UP.

And with regards to opioids, the State again has made it into the dubious - 10 with 3 lakh persons in the age-group of 10-75 years needing interventions.

Though the State Government in 2016 has formed a committee to look into substance abuse, the findings or recommendations to curtail alcohol/narcotics use is not available in public domain. In contrast, the liquor outlets have grown to 4,000 from 3,500 in 2014-15. State agencies, like police & excise department, activities were seen limited to destroying hemp cultivation.

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