Imphal, November 16 (IANS) The Manipur government is continuing to destroy illicit poppy cultivation in the state, officials said on Thursday.
Chief Minister N. Biren Singh often said that illegal immigrants and drug peddlers including Myanmar nationals are involved in mass poppy farming and forest destruction in Manipur.
Officials said that the Manipur Rifles and Forest Department officials, during the past 48 hours, by spraying herbicides destroyed 31 hectares of illicit poppy fields at Tora Champhung Hill Range under Ukhrul district.
During the joint operations, 45 huts, set up by the poppy cultivators, were burned, and other infrastructure including pipeline connections, fertilisers, salt, herbicides, and pesticides were destroyed as well.
The Chief Minister, while talking to the media, said that the state government is intensifying its war on drugs and will not stop until the drugs menace is completely rooted out from the state.
The over six month long ethnic violence was started after the Manipur government during March-April started destruction of illegal poppy cultivation and launched the eviction drive against the encroachers who illegally occupied the reserve and protected forest lands in the mountainous areas of the state.
The Chief Minister earlier stated that encroachment evictions from forest lands were done in the state to preserve forests, considering the deteriorating climatic conditions. He had said that the state government never targeted a particular community.
The enormity of the drug menace has reached such a height that out of the state’s population of 28 lakh, the number of drugs-affected youths is around 1.4 lakh.
Manipur, which shares around 400 km of unfenced border with Myanmar, has also become a gateway of illegal drugs-smuggling into India, the state government officials said. Since 2017, around hundreds of encroachers have been evicted from forest land in Imphal East, Kangpokpi,Thoubal and Noney districts.
People belonging to Meitei, Kuki, Pangal (Manipuri Muslim), and Kabui tribes have been evicted from the forest lands.
A Manipur government official on Thursday said that the state government under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act has arrested around 2,518 people in between 2017 to 2023.
The arrested people include Kuki-Chin, Muslims, Meiteis and other communities.
Poppy cultivation in Manipur stood at 15,496.8 acres. The Kuki-Chin community inhabited area in 2022-23 accounted for 804 acres and Naga people inhabited area was 350 acres. In 2017-18, the Kuki Chin area accounted for 2,001 acres and Nagas’ 229 acres.