Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar expressed deep concern over the drug menace in the state, particularly in eight districts and sought tests on employees into drug abuse

ITANAGAR: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar on Monday expressed deep concern over the drug menace in the state, particularly in eight districts and sought tests on employees into drug abuse.

Namsai, Lohit, Dibang Valley, Upper Siang, Anjaw, Changlang, Tirap and West Kameng are reported to be amongst the 272 worst drugs-hit districts in the country.

At a meeting of the State-Level Technical Expert Committee (SLTEC) at the Civil Secretariat, Kumar noted that many government employees are involved in drug abuse. It was decided that a toxicology test will be done in the worst-affected districts and strong action will be initiated against government officials involved in drugs-related activities in any form.

The chief secretary said the destruction of illicit opium, poppy or cannabis cultivation was not enough to curb the menace.

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“Education on drug or substance abuse in secondary schools and senior secondary schools, and inclusion of women and PRI members in key bodies are imperative,” he said.

He added senior school boys and girls should be taught about substance abuse through standard activities under the guidance of trained teachers.

“Activities where women and PRI members are involved are preferred interventions in terms of sensitive handling of the matters. Hence, their involvement for behavioural change at the ground level is crucial. They should be trained to undertake public education on drug menace for mass awareness,” Kumar said.

He advocated proper sensitisation and orientation for undertaking cultivation of kiwi, large cardamom and ginger and utilisation of the services of trained medical counsellors.

Considering the need of manpower and other logistics, the chief secretary advised optimal use of existing manpower and infrastructure by reorienting and refurbishing them.

To address the growing menace of substance abuse in Arunachal Pradesh, the SLTEC was tasked in November 2020 to prepare a comprehensive action plan.

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Accordingly, a team of 22 subject experts from departments such as Police, Forest, Planning, NDPS (AP), Agriculture, Horticulture, Skill Development, Administrative Reforms and Law & Justice, was constituted with Health & Family Welfare joint secretary Mamta Riba as the chairperson.

As a way forward, the SLTEC recommended allowing the executive committee of NCORD to function as a State Task Force to oversee the implementation of programmes. It also recommended engagement for a study on situational analysis on substance abuse in Arunachal Pradesh and its management with guidance from the National Institute of Social Defence.

The SLTEC further recommended the engagement of a study group for a comprehensive baseline survey on substance abuse, HIV, sex workers, and vulnerable group through competent survey consultants.

Agriculture-Horticulture secretary Bidol Tayeng, bureaucrats Shashrat Saurabh and Soumya Saurabh were present in the meeting.

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