VISAKHAPATNAM: The involvement of tribal farmers in cultivating and transportating ganja from interiors to plain areas said to be the root cause of the flourishing trade in Visakhapatnam Agency.
Despite awareness camps, the tribal farmers continue to grow ganja in the deep forests. Sources said that the farmers pack hemp in 2 kg packets and carry them to plain areas on foot. Each farmer carries at least 20 kg (10 packets) and tredge around 40 km crossing hills and forests. It takes two days for a farmer to reach the destination where smugglers will be waiting with a vehicle to transport the weed.
“The farmers generally wear a big black jacket with huge pockets. He also carries a bag. All the 10 weed packets will be carried in the jacket, the farmer carries a bag and a basket on head if required. He would take a minimum of 48 hours to reach the plain area. He would make night halt en route,” said V Papi Naidu, the inspector of the Task Force team of the Prohibition and Excise department, Anakapalle.
Generally such works are taken up in groups. As per police, if around 10 farmers are used to smuggle 200 kg ganja.
“For 20 kg ganja, the farmers will charge `5,000 to `10,000 depending on the distance. Such activities are seen in G Madugula, Pedabayalu, Munchingput and GK Veedhi mandals ,” said Papi Naidu. The fear of Maoists and lack of proper transportation are stopping Rural police and the Prohibition and Excise department officials from venturing into the deep forests.
Since the routes taken by the farmers have no roads, the police find it difficult to track their route.
According to police, the Maoist threat is another factor which deter them from proceeding further. “We can go and destroy the ganja fields, if the cultivation is done in the plain areas,” said Visakhapatnam superintendent of police (Rural) Rahul Dev Sharma.
Excise officials said that if the cultivation was stopped, ganja smuggling will also decline.
“After the weed is brought from interior region by the farmers, the vehicles are loaded with the weed and by using various means it is transported. If this initial measure is controlled, the ganja smuggling will be contained in the agency,” said an Excise official from Narsipatnam.
Even as the police use various means to curb ganja smuggling in the agency, the number of contraband cases has not seen any major decline in the last three years. Around 21,552 kg of ganja was seized and as many as 226 smuggling cases were booked by the rural police till August 28 this year.
The police have arrested as many as 619 persons involved in the smuggling. In 2015, as many as 261 ganja smuggling cases were registered and 30,029 kg of hemp was seized.
The rural police say that installation of CCTV cameras will help not only to crack the cases, but also the Maoist activities.
“If we get information, we would be able to nab the smugglers. The possibility of setting up check-posts is ruled out. The CCTV surveillance at crucial points will definitely usher in a change. We have submitted proposals for the CCTV cameras to the government and hope to get them,” said the SP.