143 NGOs join Manipur govt in 'war on drugs' campaign

143 NGOs join Manipur govt in 'war on drugs' campaign, support destruction of rampant poppy cultivation

Yet, officials said the poppy cultivation would continue without alternative livelihood support to ensure better earning

Credit: Manipur government

The Manipur government's 'war on drugs' campaign got a push on Saturday with at least 143 NGOs pledging their support in the destruction of rampant poppy cultivation, particularly in the hills district.

Agape Museum, an apex body of 143 NGOs located in different hill districts of the state, met Chief Minister N Biren Singh and pledged to work as frontline workers in the destruction of poppy plantations in their respective areas.

"The representatives of these NGOs expressed their full support to the government’s ongoing campaign. They said they would extend cooperation to the government officials in the field and take part in the campaign as front liners to save the youth from drug menace," said a statement by the chief minister's office.

According to investigating agencies in the state, poppy cultivation is rampant in Manipur as it fetches more money than other crops and the farmers are also supported by drug mafias and the cross-border network of illegal drug traders.

The state's law enforcement agencies destroyed over 5,000 acres of illicit poppy cultivation in the past two years and seized more than 1000 kgs of poppy and poppy derivatives like heroin and brown sugar.

But officials said the poppy cultivation would continue without alternative livelihood support to ensure better earning.

The NGOs also requested the chief minister to support the poppy cultivators to switch over to horticulture crops like ginger, banana, stink bean, orange, lemon, pineapple, lemongrass and others.

The chief minister said the state government already formulated a plan to rehabilitate poppy growers by providing alternative livelihood and asked the NGOs to identify suitable crops for farming in the areas where poppy is currently planted.