ANTF will be formed to curb ganja menace: Home Minister Anitha

Says de-addiction centres will be set up, checkposts will be increased at State borders & CCTVs will be installed to curb ganja smuggling
Ministers Vangalapudi Anitha, Nara Lokesh and G Sandhyarani during the 5-member Cabinet sub-committee meeting at the Secretariat on Thursday
Ministers Vangalapudi Anitha, Nara Lokesh and G Sandhyarani during the 5-member Cabinet sub-committee meeting at the Secretariat on Thursday Photo | Express

VIJAYAWADA: Home Minister Vangalapudi Anitha asserted that the five-member Cabinet sub-committee has a two-pronged strategy to tackle ganja and other narcotic substances in the State.

The Home Minister highlighted the TDP government’s commitment to making the State free from ganja.

It may be recalled that the government has constituted this subcommittee on June 24 to come up with suggestions to curb drug menace and the first meeting was conducted on Thursday.

HRD Minister Nara Lokesh, Excise Minister Kollu Ravindra, Health Minister Satya Kumar Yadav and Tribal Welfare Minister G Sandhyarani along with other officials attended the meeting to discuss about the measures to achieve the State government’s goals.

Speaking to mediapersons after the meeting at the Secretariat in Velagapudi, the Home Minister explained that the committee focuses on clamping down on ganja cultivation and smuggling, as well as preventing youth from drug addiction.

The subcommittee, headed by Anitha, discussed various factors including the cultivation and smuggling of ganja, the role of tribals, middlemen, transporters, and kingpins in the illegal trade.

Anitha announced that a dedicated special wing, the Anti-Narcotic Task Force (ANTF), will be formed to stop the illegal transport of ganja.

“Since the Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) is occupied with other duties like liquor enforcement, sand mining, as well as gambling, we decided to create a special wing dedicated to controlling the ganja menace. A toll-free number will be provided for the public to report ganja-related complaints to ANTF,” she explained.

Additionally, Anitha mentioned that the number of checkposts at State borders will be increased to control ganja transportation from neighbouring States such as Odisha.

“Strengthening checkposts at borders will prevent ganja from entering from other States. CCTV cameras will be installed at all checkposts to monitor vehicle movements and ensure transparency,” she added.

The subcommittee also plans to increase the number of de-addiction centres in the State to help youth overcome ganja addiction.

“The number of de-addiction centres will be increased, and awareness campaigns will be organised to prevent youngsters from picking up the habit,” she stated.

The Home Minister appealed to the public to cooperate with the police in curbing the ganja and drug menace.

Tribal Welfare Minister G Sandhyarani highlighted that 11 mandals in Araku, Paderu, and Narsipatnam are prone to ganja cultivation.

She appealed to tribals not to indulge in ganja cultivation and expressed concern that tribals are becoming victims in the trade while kingpins earn crores of rupees.

“Tribals will receive all possible support from the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) and the State government. This includes providing alternative crops, skill development centres for youth, and employment opportunities to prevent them from cultivating ganja,” she said.

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