Kullu, April 18: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Monday said there are areas in the state that are known for cultivation of cannabis and opium and the practice needs to be curbed by enforcing strict laws.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day conference on drug problem being organised by the Institute of Narcotics Studies and Analyses here, the chief minister said promoting cultivation of other cash crops and construction of roads in the interior areas would also help checking the cultivation of narcotics.
Virbhadra Singh said traditionally people in the state are cultivating cannabis and opium.
"It's directly related with their living as one of the major source of income. It is also related with the tough geographical terrain as it takes days to reach in those areas. There are areas where cannabis and opium are the only cash crops," he said.
Under these circumstances, the only solution to solve this problem is to provide funds to the growers to opt cultivation of other cash crops so that they could earn money than what they were getting from cultivation of narcotics, he said.
Virbhadra Singh said the drug racket seemed to be well organized, the law enforcement agencies need to curb the inter-state drug trafficking.
He said the drug peddlers were more active in areas adjoining Punjab border that should be curbed at all costs.
Police officials told IANS that the inaccessible valleys and lofty mountains in the western Himalayas were happy hunting ground for the cultivation of cannabis and opium. They are the country's biggest drug-producing areas with a considerable quantity finding its way to Europe.
An official said the lure of drugs and quick bucks also attract foreigners to the largely unexplored areas of Himachal Pradesh where they have become part of unorganised drug cultivation.
Police records show there were 50,000 acres of cannabis under cultivation in Kullu Valley alone.
In the past five years, 70 foreigners, mainly Britons, Israelis, Dutch, Germans, Japanese and Italians, have been arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.