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Widespread opium cultivation in Arunachal: Survey
Published on 28 May. 2011 11:17 PM IST
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A survey on narcotics in two border districts of Arunachal Pradesh (AP) has disclosed the widespread cultivation of opium and its rampant addiction among the people, including security personnel.
The survey was conducted by the Institute of Narcotics Studies and Analysis on behalf of the state government in Anjaw and Lohit districts, which border China and Myanmar.
It has come out with disturbing findings. According to India Today, an overwhelming majority (90 per cent) of the villages in Anjaw had all families cultivating opium, while in Lohit, the corresponding figure was 63 per cent.
According to the 2001 census, Anjaw has a population of 18,428 while Lohit’s population stands at 1.43 lakh and as many as 186 villages out of a total 226 in Anjaw and 95 villages out of 232 in Lohit said opium was their main source of income.
The survey, which took seven months to complete and has been submitted to the state government, states that opium cultivation in these districts has been going on for ages and the villagers object strongly to any government’s step to destroy the cultivation.
A source involved in the survey said the government was not serious about eradicating the narcotics trade from these villages despite the fact that opium addiction was increasing by the day.
There is around 3,460 hectares of land in Anjaw and 12,981 hectares land in Lohit, which produces opium.
The survey expressed its surprise over the fact that “those villages which had benefited most from development were the ones cultivating opium on a commercial scale”. When asked why they cultivated opium, 59.5 per cent villages in Anjaw cited “huge money in a short period” as the main reason, followed by over 15 per cent which said it was their main source of income. The corresponding figures for Lohit were 36 per cent and 15.1 per cent respectively. As many as 87.8 per cent of the villages in Anjaw and 96 per cent in Lohit said opium cultivation was more profitable.
In Anjaw, 36 per cent villages and in Lohit, 15.1 per cent villages had buyers who were government employees or from the armed forces.
In Anjaw, 47.7 per cent villages and in Lohit, 39.9 per cent villages reported that they are ready to give up opium cultivation if any viable cash crop was introduced with the support of the government.
The approximate number of male addicts reported in Lohit was 7,825 while the figure was 1,703 in Anjaw. The survey found 1,075 female addicts in Lohit and 210 in Anjaw.
Romesh Bhattacharji, president, Institute of Narcotics Studies and Analyses, said the two districts had borders with China and Myanmar and were exceedingly attractive. “If rural tourism is encouraged, many people will benefit. Of such a development there is still no sign, neither are there many facilities,” the former narcotics commissioner of India said.
“All encompassing development that covers all villages fairly is essential. Most villages in the interiors are still not electrified, have no roads or access to medical facilities,” he added.

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