SPECIAL CORRESPONDENTVISAKHAPATNAM, SEPTEMBER 08, 2019 00:26 ISTUPDATED: SEPTEMBER 08, 2019 07:49 IST
Joint Collector-2 M.V. Suryakala and Assistant Commissioner of Excise Bhaskar Rao addressing a press conference in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
Check-posts to be set up on major routes to curb smuggling
The Prohibition and Excise Department will be setting up three check-posts on the all three major routes that lead from the Agency area to Visakhapatnam city, in a step to curb ganja smuggling.
Addressing the media here on Saturday, Deputy Commissioner of Excise T. Srinivasa Rao said that the check-posts will be set up at Downuru, Vantalamamidi and Chilakalagedda. “There are three routes from the Agency such as Chintapalli, Paderu and Araku. The check-posts will come up at strategic points on each of the routes,” Mr. Srinivasa Rao said.
According to him, efforts are being made to make them integrated check-posts by roping in other stakeholders and departments such as revenue, police, coffee, forest and agriculture.
According to Excise officials, the department has also taken up an aggressive awareness campaign to dissuade tribal farmers from taking up ganja cultivation.
Visakha Agency has 11 mandals, in which ganja is rampantly cultivated in at least nine mandals.
“Ganja is grown rampantly in mandals such as G.K. Veedhi, Pedabayalu, G. Madugula and Munchingput, and in the Andhra Odisha Border (AOB) regions bordering Koraput and Malkangiri districts in Odisha,” said Assistant Commissioner Bhaskar Rao.
According to Mr. Bhaskar Rao, the ganja smugglers are using innovative methods to smuggle the ganja in a bid to give enforcement agencies the slip. “Apart from using specially fabricated cabinets in vehicles, they are now trying to smuggle the contraband through ambulances, school buses and through families who use public transport,” Mr. Bhaskar Rao said.
According to a survey, ganja is being cultivated in about 7,000 acres, and the department has taken up various awareness campaigns to encourage tribal farmers to shift to other crops.
“Many of the tribals grow
the weed without knowing the consequences. We are trying to create awareness, so that they stay away from cultivation,” said Mr. Bhaskar Rao.
So far, the department has covered over 1,100 villages using various audio and visual aids. About 15 departments are coming together to work out an integrated model in order to tackle this problem.
“By involving departments such as forest, coffee, agriculture and horticulture, we are trying to promote the cultivation of other high-value crops,” said Joint Collector-2 M.V. Suryakala.
Last year, the department had booked about 256 cases, and arrested close to 570 smugglers and destroyed a whopping 2 crore plants.
“This year too, we shall go ahead with the destruction of crops. The places have been identified with the help of manual intelligence and drone and satellite imaging,” said Mr. Bhaskar Rao. More