Despite High Court Directive, No De-Addiction Centres In Many Odisha Hospitals

Bhubaneswar: Four years on, the Orissa High Court’s directive to set up de-addiction centres in all medical colleges as well as all district headquarter hospitals seems to have hit a roadblock. A reality check by OTV at district headquarters hospitals in Balasore, Koraput and Mayurbhanj districts has revealed the State government’s apathetic attitude towards the implementation of the de-addiction drive.

Be it the liquor deaths in Tihidi of Bhadrak during the recent general elections where as many as 12 people were killed or scores of road mishaps owing to drunk driving claiming hundreds of lives, liquor menace continues to be a major issue in the State. Call it unwillingness or negligence, flouting of Orissa High Court’s order by the government has raised serious questions.

According to sources, the Department of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities recently wrote to the Excise department mentioning that despite provision for allocation of Rs 2 crore annually for the implementation of the de-addiction drive, it has not been releasing the money since last three years.

A look at the Excise revenue generation data of the State suggests that the government had earned around Rs 3221 crore during 2017-18 financial year while its earnings increased by 21 percent to touch Rs 3,925 crore in 2018-19.

Despite rise in the Excise revenue of the State over last few years, the government’s apathy towards pushing for de-addiction initiative has raised many eyebrows. While the Opposition parties have come down hard on the State government following the revelation of the new report, the Odisha State Beverage Corporation has said that necessary steps will be taken in this regard soon.

Mayurbhanj CDMO Pradip Kumar Mohapatra said, “Due to rise in addiction of liquor and varieties of drugs, de-addiction centres are extremely necessary nowadays. Very soon we are going to open such a centre for the welfare of the people.”

Mocking State government on the issue, senior Congress leader Sarat Rout said, “We should not expect that the party which is giving so much importance to win elections by rampantly luring youths with liquor and meat, will work towards implementing de-addiction drive.”

Similarly, senior BJP leader Golak Mohapatra criticized the State government saying that it lacks political will due to which de-addiction initiative is not able to move forward in the State.

However, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb has said, “It is easier for Opposition to point fingers but in reality, it is difficult to implement. The concerned departments will take notice of the High Court’s instruction and take necessary action.”