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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: In an alarming trend of sorts, Odisha has topped the country with maximum seizures of cannabis (Ganja). The big concern is the State has emerged as the prime supplier of Indian cannabis in the country, a dubious tag held earlier by the north-eastern states nationally.

Even, the National Capital Region (NCR) now banks on Odisha for requirement of  such 'high' weeds. Recently, Delhi Police busted a drug peddler racket by making a seizure of over Rs 1 crore cannabis. And investigations revealed that the seized quantity of cannabis were sourced from Rayagada in Odisha. This is not the first instance. Many such eye-opening home-truths have been popping out since the year 2015.

As per the data available with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Bhubaneswar Sub-Zone, over 40,409 kg of cannabis were seized in Odisha in 2018. Top NCB sources put the seizures in the first six months of 2019 at around 21,100kg.

How rapidly the cannabis trade is growing in Odisha  is reflected well from the fact that the seizures in  2013 were a paltry1,506 kg, though the high seizures also point at the active trail being maintained by the anti narcotic units in the State like NCB and State police.

Senior NCB sleuths here revealed that cannabis transit route from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh passes through Odisha border up to Andhra Pradesh. Existence of such a nexus became amply evident when recently seven persons belonging to Uttar Pradesh were arrested on charges of smuggling ganja from Koraput. Earlier, State police had also seized few SUVs registered in MP and Chhattisgarh on charges of carrying ganja.

"Nepalese cannabis accounts for around one-third of the Indian drug market. But the dependence on Nepalese weed has been on the wane as traffickers from Bihar in order to escape police dragnet are now sourcing cannabis and hashish (resinous product of cannabis) from Odisha for the NCR markets," disclosed a senior NCB official here.

At the same time, the big worry for the State is the massive surge in cannabis trade and the easy money amassed are being routed for the firearms business in the State. It is these firearms dealers who supply weapons and ammunitions to the left wing ultras and organised crime gangs in the State.

The State crime record Bureau  data shows that of around 30 odd firearm crimes last year, investigations revealed all firearms used were unlicensed ones. This has a grave portend on the State's law and order, informed a senior police official.

Alarmed at the emerging challenge, NCB and State police are engaged in intensive crack downs on the cannabis and opium cultivators. Every year the agencies are destroying nearly around 3,400 acres of cannabis. Still the trade is flourishing in Odisha.

Police sources attributed the rise in the 'high' weed trade to financial support from inter-State drug producer rackets. The police have found clear leads that show traders from other States financing the local narcotic substance producers here, revealed a top police official and added that in order to crack the whip on drug mafia in Odisha, like Jharkhand, it's time to set up special purpose police stations for narcotic substances here. Such dedicated units will go a long way in convicting the drug syndicates in  Odisha.

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