Maoists find funding in hemp, State mulls to root out menace

Bhubaneswar: The State government has finally woken up to decide that it will contain the rising hemp cultivation in the state following reports that the left wing extremists have been promoting plantation of the contraband in many parts of the State, mostly western region, for funding their activities.
 
The decision was taken at a high level meeting attended by SPs of eight Maoist-affected districts, officials of Excise, Narcotics Control Bureau and Crime Branch of Odisha police.
 
Since the Maoists are reportedly getting huge financial gain from growing the contraband which helps them to source arms, ammunition and strengthen cadre base, the State government has decided to destroy the plantation rampant in Malkangiri, Phulbani, Angul, Sambalpur and some pockets of Deogarh.
 
“This year we have decided to substantially increase the focus area to destroy the cannabis cultivation compared to last year. We are also looking into the feasibility of aerial spraying to destroy the illicit cultivation,” DGP Prakash Mishra said.
 
“The Excise dept and NCB officials will examine the method and if possible steps will be taken to this effect,” the official added.
 
Pointing out that the cultivation was an organised crime, ADG (Crime Branch) BK Sharma said the complete process from cultivation to transportation had an interested ramification.
 
“We need serious efforts and a completely organised way to handle it,” he stated.
 
Hemp cultivation has a long history in the State. According to sources, cannabis sativa (hemp plant) is illegally cultivated in at least 17 of the 30 districts of Odisha.
 
Large-scale ganja cultivation in tribal hinterland and inaccessible terrains have even drawn attention of the Centre as LWEs were reportedly getting huge financial gain from growing the contraband.
 
However, in the tribal-dominated districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati, Nuapada, Boudh, Kandhamal, Angul, Deogarh and Sambalpur, the ganja cultivation is done on a much bigger scale, said an official.