Two-day international conference on illicit trafficking of drugs in NE held in Imphal, Manipur Credit: EastMojo image

Imphal: A joint mechanism to fight against the amounting drug situation in the Northeast region has been endorsed and recommended during a two-day international conference on illicit drug trafficking in Imphal.

Jointly organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office, South Asia (UNOCD-ROSA) in collaboration with the government of Manipur, the conference saw participation from the eight northeastern states and the law enforcement agencies dealing on illegal drug activities.

Moreover, representatives from Southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka also attended the ‘Regional Conference on Developing a Comprehensive Approach: Combating Illicit Trafficking of Afghan Opiates and Drug Situation in the Northeast’ event held at a hotel Imphal.

According to the organisers, the event is the continuation of the earlier conference held at Chandigarh in Punjab last year.

During the conference, the participating delegates discussed and elaborated on the rising cases of illicit drug trafficking in the region and recommended eight key points, which will be shared and finalise the draft within a month.

The recommendations include establishment of a formal mechanism to foster greater interaction law enforcement agencies of member countries and India’s Northeastern states through a regional forum and shared communication tools.

Strengthening an alternative development and promoting livelihood opportunities to curb illicit cultivation of opium and cannabis in the NE states are on the priority list.

Speaking with EastMojo, regional representative of UNODC Sergey Kapinos informed that the recommendations were made to develop the mechanism for enhancing better coordination among all the relevant law enforcement agencies not only in the state but India as a whole, including immediate neighbouring countries to the Northeast states like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

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With the setting up of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) nodal office in Manipur, the state will not only be in a mission to combat trafficking and drugs but curate a hub of capacity building for law enforcement agencies who are involved in coping with drug management.

As informed by chief minister N Biren Singh during the event, the state government had given one hectare of land to NCB for developing physical presence and office of the nodal agency to combat drug menace.

Meanwhile, the UN representative also said that the geographical composition and the proximity of the region to the so-called Golden Triangle of the Southeast Asia and forest borders could be one of the factors towards the inevitable rising drug issues in the northeast region. Also due to lack of coordination among all the relevant law enforcement agencies, he said.

To counter illicit trafficking, UNODC, as a regional inter-governmental agency for cooperation, was also requested to take initiative to establish and strengthen the South Asia Regional Intelligence and Coordination Centre (SARICC), in addition to an integrated border management mechanism with support from member states.

“Bhutan is also very much affected in all these drug menace and we are also battling against the rising issues. Thereby, we are seeking helps from the neighboring countries particularly from India, added Chhimi Dorji,” a delegate from Bhutan said.

Responding to a query on UN’s possibility of funding towards building of an alternative livelihood programme to curb illicit cultivation of opium and cannabis in NE region, Kapinos stated: “We are a budgetary organisation and this was not planned, so we need to raise some extra budgetary funding for this very activity and as soon as we raise this money, our expertise will be offer and can implement lot of various effective projects in this region.”

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