Bhung cultivation on surge in South Kashmir
124 VILLAGES UNDER NARCOTIC CROP GROWING MAP
POLICE TO BOOK CULTIVATORS UNDER PSA
Islamabad, June 13: Thousands of kanals in South Kashmir were being used by tillers to grow Bhung and poppy amidst claims by the excise and police officials that a major drive has been launched against the illegal cultivation.
In a latest move to check the surge in cultivation, police would be booking the cultivators under Public Safety Act.
Disclosing this, SSP Islamabad Dr Showkat Ahmad Malik said as per the latest directions from the department, the cultivators of the Bhung and Poppy would be booked under PSA.
The massive cultivation drive by the farmers in their bid to encash the crop was evident as lush green patches of Bhung could be seen on large areas of agriculture and horticulture land in villages of Bijbehara, Pahalgam, Kulgam, Qazigund, Pulwama, Tral and Shopian.
In addition in Pulwama, Awantipora and Bijbehara areas, the tall poppy plants at its ripening stage were visible.
Sources in excise department said in Bijbehara constituency alone, 80 percent of the villages were under the cultivation of Bhung and Poppy.
A major chunk of land both agriculture and horticulture was under the cultivation of narcotic crops in villages of Krandigam, Dupatyar, Ghantalipora,Thajiwara, Takiabal, Kandipora, Upsan, Kanilwan, Laribal, Hayar, Waghama, Satkipora, Kanelwan, Semthan, Veeri, Naboog Sallar, Kullar, Srigufwara, Wachi, Kawun, Bandina, Dangripora and Tulkhun.
“Krandigam and Dupatyar villages of Bijbehara are famous for being involved in the cultivation,” sources said.
“It is due to callous approach of the law enforcement agencies like Excise, Police and Crime that the number of villages where people cultivate this crop on 80 percent of their agriculture land has gone up from 60 in 2008 to 124 in 2010,” sources said.
Accusing the Excise and Police officials of being lax in checking the surge in narcotic crop cultivation, locals term the report about the claims of drive against illegal cultivation in media as ‘farce’.
“The drive is only on papers. The officials may turn up sometimes and destroy the weeds only or for that matter a wild Bhung on some small patches and later give it media hype,” said locals in these villages.
“Our children are falling prey and people who are concerned about this are sending their children to Srinagar or outside states for studies,” said the locals.
A Bhung cultivator in village Krandigam of Bijbhera area disclosed that they have been asked to pay Rs 1000 for extracting Charas against each kanal.
“A team of officials last year approached us and asked us to pay Rs one thousand per kanal for which we agreed,” he said, adding that he paid Rs 3000 for the three kanals of land on which he had cultivated the crop.
However, the officials of the Excise department maintain that they were not being provided logistic support by the government for destruction of the Bhung.
A top official told Greater Kashmir that ‘destruction of the Bhung is not only the job of Excise department but police and crime are also meant for the purpose and all these agencies have to work together to destroy it.”
Accusing the government of not providing funds, he said, “For destroying the Bhung crop we need not only the laborers but the machinery like tractors and other equipments also. But the government is neither providing us funds nor any other logistic support to face this challenge.”
He said the government had allotted them Rs 12 lakh instead of an estimated amount of Rs 50 lakh needed to destroy it once for all.
Malik when asked to comment on surge in the cultivation, said, “The Bhung cultivation has been going on from decades and though we have been destroying the crop but the task is enormous.”
Malik said the six month drive against poppy launched by the police in coordination with other agencies proved to be a huge success as the crop cultivated on around 980 kanals of land in Pahalgam and Bijbehara was destroyed.
Similarly, he said, that in order to get away rid from the Bhung, it needed a coordinated effort by police, excise, crime, revenue department and narcotic bureau and also the awareness campaign in the villages is on cards.
“We would be launching an awareness campaign in coordination with other agencies and like we did in case of poppy, we have planned to rope in Imams and village heads also. Instead of destroying the Bhung at its ripening stage we will try our best not to allow its cultivation in only the early stage,” said Malik.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Jun 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 13 Jun 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 14 Jun 2010 00:00:00 IST
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