KOCHI: Be it Sheelavathi, Idukki Gold or Mysore Mango, all the ganja hitting Kerala markets come from forest regions of the Eastern Ghats spread over Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Of the many cases registered under NDPS Act in Kerala, a majority are related to seizure and abuse of ganja. In September this year, an Excise team busted a Mysuru-based gang that smuggled a large quantity of ganja from Andhra Pradesh. Around 500kg was seized from Thiruvananthapuram.
Excise officials claim that Malayalis are largely involved in cultivating ganja in Maoist infested areas of Andhra and Odisha. “Till the early 1990s, ganja used to be cultivated in forest areas of the state, including Idukki. They popularised Idukki Gold, a variety locally known as Neelachadayan. But once the crackdown started, those involved in the illegal trade moved to Andhra and Odisha. Even now, Idukki Gold is popular among peddlers and users.
But the fact is, Idukki Gold in the market now doesn’t come from Idukki. The same applied to Mysore Mango and Sheelavathi from Dindigul,” a senior excise official said. According to a senior officer who has been with the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) since 2018, the Andhra Pradesh government has destroyed over 4,000 acres of ganja farms.
“But as the cultivation happens in areas with Maoist presence, putting an end to the menace is not an easy task. In recent years, cultivation of ganja has also started in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The cultivation happens with the support of Maoist groups there,” he said.Earlier, ganja from Andhra Pradesh used to be brought via Idukki borders, to dupe buyers into thinking that it is Idukki Gold.
This was done to make a profit from the popularity and high demand for the variant. “Now with enforcement activities enhanced on Idukki borders, this practice has come down. Now, the supply enters the state via the Karnataka border,” said the NCB official.