Shivamogga: the hub of ganja cultivation in state

The gateway to Malnad has become the hub of ganja production in Karnataka. As many as 800 kilograms of ganja plants have been seized in Shivamogga district in the last 10 months, the highest in the state, according to police sources.

Ganja has especially become a major source of income for history-sheeters and is propelling criminal activities in the Malnad region. Superintendent of Police Abhinav Ashok Khare said Shivamogga had been a base of many history-sheeters. Kotwal Ramachandra, who hails from Shivamogga, was one of the underworld gangsters of Bengaluru in the 1970s and 1980s. In those days, sandalwood trees were the main source of income for anti-social elements who would sell them to carry out their activities.

Sandalwood trees were easily available in the Malnad region back then. But the situation has changed now with ganja replacing sandalwood. History-sheeters often use the money earned through the sale of ganja to get bail from courts. Not only that, several recent gang attacks in the district have a ganja connection. Ganja is also being supplied to Bengaluru through an organised network, Khare said.

Ganja cultivation area
In order to identify the areas of ganja cultivation in the district, police are using drones and carrying out combing operations in all the seven taluks of the district. The cultivation is said to be happening in Kumsi village of Shivamogga taluk, besides parts of Sagar and Shikaripur taluks.

Speaking to DH, Deputy Commissioner of Excise Department Y R Mohan said farmers were illegally cultivating ganja along with regular crops such as maize, cotton and ginger. In the last 15 days, 505 ganja plants have been seized in the district. At least 15 cases of illegal cultivation of ganja have been registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in the district in the last month. At least five arrests have been made, he added.

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene president K T Gangadhar called upon the farming community to identify people who were growing ganja for the sake of money and hand them over to the police.

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