KOZHIKODE: It’s Udta Kerala as the first six months of the calendar saw the state closing in on Punjab for the notorious title - the most drug-abused and drug-trafficked state in India. In 2015, Kerala was way behind Punjab, where 6,329 more narcotics cases were registered, and the gap has narrowed to 373 cases in the January-June period of 2016.
Till now in the news for its high level of alcohol consumption, the state saw 1,836 narco cases being registered in the first six months as against 2,209 cases in Punjab. In this race where high is the low, Kerala has moved past Uttar Pradesh to earn the runners-up position.
There were 1,483 such cases in UP which has a larger population. Surprisingly, the number of cases registered in the two southern states - TN and Karnataka - during the said period was negligible - one and 112 respectively. Though the number of drug abuse cases has been on a steady rise in Kerala after the cancellation of licences of 730 bars and closure of over 70 outlets of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation and Supplyco, the latest data from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is indeed alarming. “We are doing our best to check drug trafficking. The situation is becoming grave and we need to strengthen law enforcement,” said state Excise Commissioner Rishi Raj Singh.
As per the MHA data, nearly three tonnes of ganja were seized in Kerala in the first half of 2016, while it was just 810 kg in 2015. Apart from this, heroin and hashish were the other two drugs which were widely seized in Kerala. Nearly 12.78 kg of other psychotropic substances, including LSD, too were also seized from the state during the period.
"People have been cooperating with the Excise Department to nab the drug traffickers and the department's efficiency in tracking cases is showing results. The flow and consumption of drugs have increased tremendously in the past six months and this is reflected in the spurt in the number of seizures. The agencies are on a high alert. Educational institutions and youth are the soft targets for traffickers. Parents need to remain alert and keep track of the activities of their children," said Joint Excise Commissioner P V Muralikumar.
CGH Earth CEO Jose Dominic said there was nothing to feel surprised about Kerala catching up with Punjab in the race to become a drug haven. "The unrealistic liquor policy is the reason for the rise in drug trafficking cases in Kerala," Dominic said.