With the ganja trade in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam district going unabated, District Collector N. Yuvaraj has asked officials of the Prohibition and Excise Department and the district police to invoke the provisions of the A. P. Prevention of Dangerous Activities of drug offenders Act, popularly known as PD Act, on the smugglers.
Stung by criticism from various quarters that the Agency areas have become a haven for ganja cultivators and smugglers, the district administration appears to have resorted to this option to deal with the smugglers with an iron hand.
The Prohibition and Excise Department has so far seized over 22 MT of dry ganja, compared to the previous year figure of 5.6 MT and the police have seized 30 MT compared to 12 MT the previous year.
According to Prohibition and Excise Deputy Commissioner M. Satyanarayana, this year, in the Narsipatnam zone alone, which is one of the major gateways from the Agency area, the department has so far booked a total of 1,200 cases, arrested 980 persons, and seized 13 MT of dry ganja.
Terming this a welcome move, he told The Hindu that they were gearing up to slap PD Act on the ganja smugglers.
“So far, we have been charging the offenders under the NDPS Act. Now, our hands are strengthened. It should act as a major deterrent,” he said. Ganja is being grown in nine out of 12 mandals in the Agency area.
The major contribution is from the mandals such as Chintapalli, Paderu, Araku, G. Madugula, Rolugunta, and G. K. Veedhi.
Innocent adivasi farmers are being lured into cultivation by smugglers from various states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala, who pitch camp at the village and provide support in the form of money, seed, and fertilizers. According to Mr. Satyanarayana, the ‘Sheelavathi’ variety that is grown here is said to be a premium one. Excise Superintendent of Anakapalle D. S. R. C. Murthy said that the rate per-kg could vary between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 18,000, depending on the refinement and end destination.
Now, our hands are strengthened. It should act as a major deterrent.
Prohibition and Excise Deputy Commissioner