Cultivation of poppy has destroyed and defaced the beautiful landscape, causing exponential damage to the environment, said Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul Krishna Kumar
TFM Ukhrul Correspondent
The Tangkhul CSOs Forum for Stopping Opium Poppy Plantation (SOPP) organised one day workshop on capacity enhancement for curbing opium poppy plantation on Friday at DRDA Hall, Mini Secretariat Complex, Ukhrul. The programme was attended by DC of Ukhrul, Krishna Kumar. The panelist of today’s workshop were, DIG (Adm), Worngam Ningshen, Additional Secretary TCI, LN. Kashung, DFO Ukhrul, Shanngam Shaliwo, District Aids Control Officer, Dr. Yuithingla Vashum and Pastor of UTBC, Rev. Somi Kasomwoshi.
Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul, Krishna Kumar in his exhortation appealed all to joint hands for a sustainable society. He further added, “remedies also need to be discussed as a way out from all this ills that have plagued our society because of plantation of poppy in Ukhrul District. Attacking the very core or vitality of the social system, the budding tissue should be nipped in the bud. Cultivation of poppy has destroyed and defaced the beautiful landscape, causing exponential damage to the environment. Government curpolice alone cannot win the fight. Every right thinking citizen must joint the war on drugs.”
Worngam Ningshen spoke on legal perspective. He stated that “NDPS Act, 1985 prohibits a person the production, manufacturing, cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. He explained the legalities of the NDPS Act and consequences to be faced by the cultivators of poppy and canabis according to the Act. Poppy cultivation and plantation is increasing year by year in area wise, especially in Ukhrul District. We must curb plantation of poppy in our area by extending support to “War On Drugs” an effort under the initiative of Government of Manipur for drug free Manipur.”
LN. Kashung spoke on the socio-political perspective. He stated that “each participants is a responsible leader to change the situation of vicious circle to virtuous circle. The situation we are in is due to weakening of law and social institutions becoming less effective.”
LN. Kashung called for strengthening the rule of law, strengthening the social system, values and institutions and for ensuring viable alternative aside from agriculture, like secondary and tertiary sector.
DFO of Ukhrul, Shanngam Shaliwo gave presentation on environmental impact. He stated that “forest, wildlife, environment, climate, etc, has no boundary and call for urgent need to curb the illegal activity of poppy cultivation in Ukhrul District. Soil erosion due to deforestation, frequent flash floods and rapid consumption of limited public funds are some of the impacts due to illegal poppy cultivation. In short, we are digging future generation grave. There is huge junk of deforestation due to poppy cultivation. The area has spread to such an extend that it will be impossible for manpower to destroy the area of poppy cultivation in Ukhrul District. Some viable alternatives can be arranged by Forest Department of Ukhrul in colloboration with other departments like cultivation of lemon grass oil, kiwi farm, fast growing timber plantation and others.”
DFO Ukhrul stated that “as per our interaction with the poppy cultivators, many are into poppy plantation because of the lucrative income. Most of the poppy cultivators are into this plantation to buy or secure a “Government Job” for their sons and daughters.”
Shanngam Shaliwo further continued that “Ukhrul District has the largest area under poppy cultivation in Manipur. We are playing with fire. One day this cultivation will have serious impact on our environment. Because of the extensive use of fertilisers in the upper region, the rocks and stones in the lower region are getting bleached. Due to consumption of contaminated water, there is stark reduction in fertility of women.”
Dr. Yuithingla Vashum spoke on health and its impact. She stated “substance abuse in Manipur is presently one of the most disturbing and challenging scenario in the society today. Nicotine, alcohol, cannabinoids, opioids,sedatives, stimulants, inhalants etc, are the commonly misused substances. Injecting morphine can result in breathing difficulty, pale/blue lips, nausea, constipation, mood changes, mental confusion an can be fatal. Not only physical harm, drug addiction also causes psychological harm, occupational/financial harm and familial/social harm.”
Dr. Yuithingla Vashum informed that “there are 902 registered OST clients for Ukhrul and Kamjong Districts. Out of which, 648 are active clients and treatment for 57 clients are completed. As of now, 29 reports of drug overdose in Ukhrul and 3 in Kamjong with report of 1 person death due to overdose in 2022.”
Dr. Yuithingla Vashum added that “poppy cultivation unless curbed on time will prove to be disastrous for our society which is already overburdened with substance abuse and various implications related to it.”
Pastor of Ukhrul Town Baptist Church, Rev. Somi Kasomwoshi deliberated on the spiritual perspective. He stated that “God created mankind to be a good steward of His creation and not to destroy the nature. Poppy plantation is a direct challenge to God’s beautiful creation, image of God is being disturbed, defaced through these activities. Going by the scenario unfolding in the state, there are enough evidence to say that there is nexus between poppy cultivators and drug cartels, betwen drug cartels and politicians, administrators and police. This is unethical. We must stopped before it is too late. Let us oppose illegal and illicit poppy cultivation in Tangkhul areas.”
President of TSL, Thingreiphi Lungharwoshi, who is also the Convenor of SOPP stated that “as our way forward, we will generate maximum awaremess in different area/zone of Tangkhul inhabited areas through poster campaigns, slogans and statistic. We would also need the support of church leaders in disseminating the awareness at grassroot level. We will even go to the extend of participating in destruction of poppy, if need arise.”
The programne was also attended by CMO of Ukhrul, Dr. Kapangring A Shimray, Vice President of TNL, Tuisem Kamkara, President of TNWL, SA. Ramnganing, Chairman of Ato Longphang, Dearson Chamroy, President of RKL, Somipam Vashum, President of SANSA, Khayaising Maza, representatives from TKS, TMNL, Zingtun Longphang, Aze Longphang and leaders from various villages of Ukhrul and Kamjong Districts.