With polling for the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh slated for May 7, the politicians are demanding that the cultivation of opium and poppy husk should be made legal. Earlier, a sitting Member of Parliament from Punjab had demanded legalised vends of poppy husk in Punjab.
Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) president and MLA Maheshwar Singh has been raising the issue of legalisation of poppy husk and opium cultivation in the state, taking after Madhya Pradesh, where this cultivation is legal.
“But the Union Government turned down my demand on the pretext that the cultivation in MP is done by the farmers under tight supervision, and the farmer has to produce or give a minimum yield per acre, which is fixed by the government. They say it is not possible in Himachal due the remote areas, and therefore, smuggling can take place. If they allow it, I am all for it, as illegal cultivation will then stop,” he added.
Sitting BJP MP and candidate from Shimla (Reserved) Lok Sabha seat Virender Kashyap said legalised cultivation of opium is the best option. In his election meetings, he had been promising to legalise its cultivation, if the NDA is voted to power.
He said, “I raised his issue frequently in the Lok Sabha. There is a huge demand for opium in the pharmaceutical industry. The climatic condition in certain areas is congenial for its cultivation. So, if our farmers are able to meet the market demand, what is wrong in it? In Madhya Pradesh, selective cultivation of opium is allowed.”
Kashyap added poppy cultivation was not banned in the state before independence, saying, “It’s wrong to presume that the drug mafia will flourish with government backing. There is a solution to its misuse with strictest enforcement,as there are a number of surveillance agencies.”
In Kullu, Mandi, Shimla and Chamba districts of the hill state, cannabis and opium are grown illegally. Last year, the police sezied 78 kgs of cannabis, and cultivated cannabis in around 3,000 bighas was destroyed in Kullu. In Kullu, cannabis are mainly grown in Malana, Kasol, besides other areas.