THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Revealing the extent of drug abuse in the state, the Excise Department has registered 5,944 cases under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) in 2017 alone- the biggest haul in the history of the organisation so far. As per documents, this was more than thrice the number of cases registered in 2015 (1,430) and twice more than the number of cases registered in 2016 (2,985).
Drug abuse is a menace the state has been grappling with for quite some time and the new stats is going to be a headache for the enforcement agencies as there has been a steady spike in the number of cases and the quantity of contraband seized in the last couple of years.
Sources accessed by Express showed 229.855 kg ganja was seized in the first three months of 2017, but the seizure has risen to 519.28 kg in the first trimester of 2018.The situation is grimmer because the number of NDPS cases registered by the state police and the Narcotics Control Bureau are not included in the current statistics released by the Excise Department.
“If we piece together the statistics from the other two departments, the number of cases will definitely be more than 8,000. The quantity of ganja, hashish and heroin seized would come to twice or thrice of what we've captured,” said a senior officer of the Excise Department.
When asked what the rise in the number of cases meant to the state, Additional Excise Commissioner ( Enforcement) A Vijayan remarked it was a major disaster in the making.
“All the enforcement agencies collectively might have captured one-tenth of the contraband brought to the state. The rest have gone through the filter. So, when we say the number of NDPS cases has increased, that means the extent of drug abuse is more than what we think."
Vijayan said the even though the department has been clamping down on ganja cultivation in the state, the contraband has been brought through porous state borders either via road or by train. Kambam and Theni serve as a transit point for carriers smuggling drugs to Kerala, he said.
Meanwhile, the state government seems to have understood the gravity of drug abuse and has decided to set up 10 de-addiction centres across the state to fight the menace.