'Maoists encouraging farmers to grow cannabis in Odisha'

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Bhubaneswar, Apr 3: The Odisha government may have successfully contained the Maoist mlitants in some pockets of the state but the government is yet to plug the cannabis cultivation which, police believe, is a major source of funding for the ultras.

"Whenever we get information about ganja (ganja) cultivation, we destroy the crops and take action against the culprits," Director General of Odisha Police Sanjeev Marik told IANS.

cannabis

He admitted that the Maoists are directly and indirectly involved in the cannabis cultivation and are encouraging the farmers to do so.

The state government has decided to take a multi-disciplinary approach to destroying cannabis cultivation in the state, involving the police, the excise department and the narcotics control bureau to chalk out and implement an action plan on this.

Cannabis cultivation is happening in the state's interior pockets, particularly in tribal-dominated districts where Maoists have unleashed terror among the village communities, another officer said.

Clandestine cultivation of cannabis is rampant in eight districts - Angul, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Boudh, Kandhamal, Rayagara, Gajapati and Malkangiri, an official said. 

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In fact, Excise Minister Damodar Rout has admitted that there are large tracts under cannabis cultivation in some districts.

The excise department, with the assistance of police, forest and revenue officials, has destroyed cannabis worth Rs.2,500 crore in the last four years, an official said.

"The government is taking steps to destroy the ganja cultivation in the state. It has engaged local people to inform about such cultivation and action is being takan against the violators under the law," Rout told the assembly.

He said 6.6 million illegal plants have been destroyed in eight districts by Jan 31. In the 2013-14 financial year, 9.05 million plants were destroyed, 4.57 million in 2012-13 and 2.16 million in 2011-12, Rout said.

Even though the police and excise department have been destroying the illegal cultivation from time to time, this is yet to be wiped out. Now, cannabis is being grown in dense hilly areas, where police face difficulties in destroying the crops.

Sources said traders from neighbouring states like Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh are encouraging farmers to cultivate cannabis, which provides better returns than paddy.

IANS

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