The Telegraph
Sunday , May 4 , 2014
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Probe lens on cannabis

Cuttack, May 3: Police have decided to conduct a “financial investigation” to curb illegal cannabis cultivation, which is rampant in remote parts of the state.

An expert committee would also be constituted to target the funding source that acts as a catalyst in promoting hemp cultivation, said director-general of police Prakash Mishra.

While inaugurating a workshop on pro-active measures to prevent cultivation and destruction of cannabis, held at crime branch headquarters here today, Mishra said the police destroyed cannabis crops over 3,000 acres in various districts last year. This was possible with co-ordinated efforts of the police and the excise department.

“The overall performance was satisfactory last year. We are trying to initiate stern action to cut the funding source to completely wipe out illegal cannabis cultivation,” said Mishra, adding that there would also be stress to ensure that cultivation did not resume and this could play a crucial role in targeting at the roots of organised crime.

Cannabis plants over 1,224.5 acres were destroyed in 2012-13 as compared to those over 2,035.6 acres in 2010-11. Illegal ganja cultivation over 1,132 acres was destroyed in 2009-10.

Superintendents of police from eight Maoist-hit districts — Angul, Boudh, Sambalpur, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Gajapati, Malkangiri and Rayagada — attended the workshop that aims to review the progress and overcome the lacunas.

“Our focus would be on striking at the finances of those involved in illegal cannabis trade, and this involves a lot of in-depth investigation,” said additional director-general of police (crime branch) B.K. Sharma.

Sharma said there was a need to focus on registration of more cases against those involved in the illegal trade. Besides, stress would also be given on financial investigation and confiscating property at the police station levels. Moreover, focus should also be on ascertaining the exact links of various persons from the state involved with the cannabis cultivation to other places outside the state.

Besides, emphasis would be given on to break the transportation routes that can be mainly done through inter-departmental co-operation and a dedicated strategy, Sharma said.

Sources said the excise department has been asked to explore the possibility of destroying cannabis crops with chemicals, which will reduce human labour.

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