Gwalior opium farmers stage protest for re-allotment of their lands

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Gwalior, Aug 25 (ANI): More than 100 opium farmers here took to the streets demanding their lands back.

Farmers from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan gathered in front of the office of the local Narcotics Commissioner.

Their demands include the revival of their cancelled land deeds, raising minimum support price for their crop and license to grow upto 48 kilograms opium per hectare.

Some agitated farmers, squatting outside the Narcotics Commissioner's office for two days, took off their clothes in protest after they failed to meet the narcotics commissioner for the second day.

"We are protesting for one justified demand...during 2001 to 2008 opium farmers have suffered a huge loss because of hailstorms, cold wave and other natural reasons... Despite our losses, the Narcotics Commissioner has cancelled our allotments, even though we produced the collector's survey damage report... We demand the revival of the title of the lands," said Saurabh Jain, Convenor, Opium Farmers Struggle Committee, Rajasthan.

India is one of the world's top producers of opium and is the sole producer of licit opium gum utilized by the world's pharmaceutical industries to produce codeine, morphine, narcotine, thebaine, papaverine and other medical products.

While remote mountainous areas like Kulu-Manali are more in the news as poppy cultivation areas, mostly due to the illicit crops destroyed, the highest yields come from the Indo-Gangetic plains constituting Uttar Pradesh and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Opium cultivation and processing in India is strictly regulated by the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN), as per provisions of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (India), 1985 and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Rules (India), 1985.

Peasants are licensed to grow a certain area in poppy and government factories process the opium. The Ghazipur factory in Uttar Pradesh is about 150 years old while another plant at Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh was set up in the 1930's. (ANI)

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