THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Teach ‘em young to say an emphatic NO to drugs! The District Administration and Excise Department are planning to conduct a massive anti-drug abuse drive simultaneously with schools reopening.
Strengthening anti-narcotic clubs in schools, awareness classes, seminars, street plays and video screenings will be part of the programmes planned. District Collector S Venkatesapathy said the programme schedule for the new academic year will be finalised on May 20.
“We plan to conduct an intensive programme in June when the students will not be under much pressure. Students from Upper Primary to Plus-II will be covered under the programme,” Venkatesapathy said.
The Collector said they will rope in the support of voluntary organisations like the Alcoholics Anonymous to revive the anti-narcotic clubs in schools.
“This year we also plan to expand the programme to as many schools as possible. Maximum number of schools in the government, aided and unaided streams will be linked with the project,” he said.
Deputy Excise Commissioner Abdul Kalam A said his department operates anti-narcotic clubs in 140 schools in the district. Complaint boxes to pass on information on drug sales or abuse among student have been placed in 140 schools. This year, complaint boxes will be placed in 100 more schools.
According to Kalam, tight monitoring by the Excise officials has helped in curbing sale of tobacco products near schools, though it has not been completely eliminated. “Besides the routine inspections and shadow teams, we have set in place an intelligence gathering mechanism to get information on the sale of drug or narcotic substances to school and college students,” he said.
The official said several seizures and arrests were made in the past academic years with the help of the intelligent gathering mechanism. The drive against pan shops, which was launched by Commissioner Rishi Raj Singh, too will help prevent the student community from falling prey to addiction, he said. “Pan shops are the hub of anti-social elements. Their absence will prove to be good for the student community,” he said.
The Excise Department is organising several initiatives to spread awareness on the menace of alcohol, tobacco and other substance abuse among the students.
They have started opening stalls at festival and exhibition venues. Some of the festivals that saw the department’s participation were the Attukal Pongala, Neyyattinkara Kurisumala pilgrimage and a couple of temple festivals in Chirayinkeezhu. “The response at the stalls were good and encouraging. Besides the ill-effects of drug abuse, we provide safety tips to parents to help them save their wards from the menace,” Kalam said.
Selling drugs disguised as candy will invite penalty
The Excise Department has decided to act tough on people selling drugs masquerading them as foods. “Action will be taken against those selling banned jelly candies and other kinds of candy-like drugs,” said Deputy Excise Commissioner Abdul Kalam A.
“We have asked traders near schools not to sell a popular chewing gum brand to students. The manufacturers themselves have stated on the cover that it is ‘not recommended for children’,” he said. Kalam said addictive fruit flavoured mouth sprays seized from northern parts of the state were not yet seen in the capital.
Launching initiatives to tackle drug menace
The Excise Department is organising several initiatives to spread awareness on the menace of alcohol, tobacco and other substance abuse among the students. They have started opening stalls at festival and exhibition venues.