Bhubaneswar,Feb 28 (LocalWire) : The latest seizure of 45 kilograms of ganja (cannabis) from Boipariguda in Koraput district bordering Chhatisgarh shows that trade in the contraband continues unabated in the state’s Maoist-dominated belt.
The consignment that was intercepted by the authorities on Tuesday was being transported to Raipur, a major market for smuggled ganja.
The seizure came close on the heels of a much bigger haul of cannabis in the neighbouring Malkangiri district which is also a Maoist hot-bed.
On February 9 Malkangiri police had impounded a truck carrying 8 quintals of ganja and arrested two smugglers. The market value of the consignment was estimated to be Rs.40 lakh.
Sources said that notwithstanding regular seizures of the contraband enforcement authorities in the state have been struggling to curb rampant ganja cultivation and trade. An ambitious plan to identify cannabis plantations in different parts of the state through satellite imagery in order to destroy them has remained a non-starter.
The agency which had been entrusted with the task of identifying cannabis plantations often tucked away in deep forests and among hills has not been able to carry out the task in the absence of required intelligence inputs about the plantations from districts such as Angul, Deogarh, Boudh, Kandhamal, Rayagada, Gajapati and Malkangiri.
Most of these districts are dominated by Maoists who patronize the trade that sustains them financially.
Senior officials said that though plantations in some areas have been destroyed by joint teams of police and excise departments acting without the aid of satellite imagery plantation in some areas like Deogarh and Sambalpur remain hard to locate.
Sources said by the end of September, 2016 cannabis plantations on nearly 2,457 acres had been destroyed against the target of 3,050 acres for 2015-16. Before that ganja grown over an area of 3,768 acres had been set on fire.
A major problem for the enforcement agencies was the change in the cultivation pattern with growers moving to new areas that made it hard to collect information and plan raids. Hence, the stress was on strengthening the intelligence gathering mechanism, especially by revenue and forest officials.
Sources said cannabis is being cultivated in 10 districts of the state, namely Angul, Deogarh, Gajapati, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Nayagarh, Sambalpur, Boudh, Kandhamal and Cuttack.
Till a few years ago its main concentration was in Angul district but sustained drive by the enforcement agencies forced a majority of growers to shift to Boudh and Kandhamal and even parts of Nayagarh.