Hemp plants destroyed in joint operation

Phulbani: In a joint raid, excise and police have destroyed nearly 18,000 hemp plants valued at around Rs 79 lakh in Maoist-affected Kandhamal district, police said today.

The raid was conducted by a joint team along river Sunamundi near Gochhapada village in the tribal dominated district yesterday, they said.

Both departments in the joint operations in the region have destroyed hemp plants worth around Rs 9.30 crore since October 2012, the sources said.

Hemp plants are mostly planted in forest areas, about 4 to 5 km from human habitation.

The last haul was on a seven acre plot of government land. "Ganja cultivation is rampant in tribal-dominated districts," a senior excise officer said.

The squad had destroyed 1.62 lakh hemp plants in Rayagada, Gajapati, Boudh and Phulbani.

The officers suspect that locals have been engaged in planting hemp by some unscrupulous businessmen. Ganja peddlers are also under their radar.