| Ibobi Singh speaks at the workshop in Imphal on Thursday. Telegraph picture |
Imphal, Aug. 22: Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today called for a nationwide drive to check the menace of substance abuse, particularly among children.
“To curb the menace of children indulging in substance abuse, a concerted effort at the national level is needed,” Ibobi Singh said at a two-day state-level workshop on substance abuse among children here today.
The workshop has been organised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, New Delhi, and the Manipur social welfare department.
“The Manipur government has been trying to ban sale and consumption of tobacco and stop smuggling of intoxicating drugs but it is a difficult task because of lack of support from consumers and stakeholders,” Ibobi Singh said.
The chief minister’s call for a national-level concerted campaign comes at a time when there is a growing concern over drug abuse and widespread consumption of tobacco products among children in the state.
Responding to fervent public calls for urgent steps to curb substance abuse and make children aware of its ill-effects, state education minister Moirangthem Okendro announced earlier this week that the lessons on drugs, including its impact on individuals, family and society would soon be included in school syllabus.
“We have been talking a lot about the impact of drugs abuse in our society and have been taking measures to check it. However, we have never tried to prevent people from getting into the habit of drug abuse,” he said.
Quoting a recent survey, the chairman of Manipur’s State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, A. Nabachandra, said Manipur has 2,391 villages and on an average 10 to 15 children in each village have the habit of substance abuse.
Listing measures taken by the government to curb use of drugs and smokeless tobacco products like gutkha, the chief minister said the efforts were unsuccessful as tobacco products manufactured in other states, including Assam, were entering Manipur.
“Therefore, to curb the menace, a concerted effort at the national level is required,” Ibobi Singh said.
The Manipur government banned the sale and consumption of smokeless tobacco products in the state in February. However, the items are still available in black market.
Despite efforts by government agencies, drugs like Spasmo-Proxyvon tablets also continue to reach Manipur.