AIIMS gets time on drug abuse survey
New Delhi: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences has bought more time from the Supreme Court to prepare a survey report on the extent and effects of drug abuse in India along with recommendations to combat the threat.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had on July 16 directed the institute to finalise the report by September 7, saying "no further extension shall be granted" and that the matter was "of national importance".
However, the court this week granted AIIMS more time after it cited how the Rs 30-crore survey, started in June 2016, had been taken over in September last year by the social justice ministry.
"Since the ministry... has significantly modified the originally proposed plan of implementation and has taken over from AIIMS... and handed over to other agencies a number of operational tasks, AIIMS... is not in a position to control the implementation of the project," the institute's application, moved through advocate Dushayant Parashar, says.
"Delivery of final report by AIIMS... is contingent upon all the required tasks to be carried out by various other agencies which are being paid and monitored by the ministry...."
The institute has said that after the ministry and the agencies have completed the data collection, AIIMS would need "at least two months for conducting a thorough analysis" before it can hand in its findings to the ministry.
Atul Ambekar, head of the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, is the main investigator for the "national survey on extent and pattern of substance use in India".
The other investigators are Rakesh Chadda, Ravindra Rao, Ashwani Mishra and Alok Agrawal.
The court directive had come on a petition from Kethireddy Jagadishwar Reddy, moved through advocate Sravan Kumar, seeking instructions to the Centre to prepare an action plan to deal with the rising drug abuse and related suicides.
Reddy has demanded stricter laws providing for confiscation of drug peddlers' properties and discouraging television and movies from portraying or "glorifying" drug use.
He has placed in court data that show 10 drug or alcohol-related suicides in the country every day.
Prepared by the National Crime Records Bureau and tabled in the Rajya Sabha in July 2016, the data place Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala at the top of the chart of drug-related suicides.
According to the bureau, Maharashtra reported 1,372 of 3,647 such suicides in India in 2014, followed by Tamil Nadu with 552 and Kerala with 475. Punjab reported 38.
Reddy claims that a March 2017 report by the US government, titled "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report", brackets India with countries such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, Colombia, Mexico and Pakistan as drug-peddling hubs.