VISAKHAPATNAM: IN yet another measure to check ganja smuggling in the Visakhapatnam agency, the district administration has planned a massive awareness drive for the ganja cultivators in the interior villages. Nine mandal-level committees (MLCs) have been formed by the officials of Excise and Prohibition department who would implement the initiative in 149 villages in the agency area.
The MLCs will be headed by excise inspector, village tahsildar, SHO, ZPTC member or village sarpanch, public representatives, a few dedicated youth. The excise officials identified 149 villages in nine mandals of the agency, where farmers cultivate the weed for money. Hukumpeta, Paderu, G.Madugula, Anathagiri and a few other mandals top the list of hemp cultivation.
Interacting with Express, assistant commissioner of excise and prohibition SVVN Babji Rao said the panels would start functioning from next month. “The MLCs will identify ganja cultivation area and the farmers who cultivate them,” said Babji Rao.
According to him, after identifying the farmers, counselling sessions will be conducted in the villages. “Speakers will create awareness among youngsters on smuggling of weed and addiction. We will let them know about the rigorous punishments under various sections for cultivating the cntraband,” Babji Rao added.
The district administration with the help of state government will also come up with alternative employment opportunities for the farmers, either by helping them to cultivate other crops or introduce skill development programmes for their livelihood. As per the officials, a district-level team will supervise the functioning of all the committees. It will be headed by collector N Yuvaraj, Visakhapatnam Rural SP Rahul Dev Sharma, ITDA project officer Harinarayan, deputy commissioner of excise and a few other members. The MLCs will submit a report of their functioning every fortnight to the district level committee. The report should include the number of farmers cultivating ganja, how they are creating awareness, change brought about, youngsters helping farmers, their efforts in motivating them and alternative arrangements.