Abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances has increased manifold in Kerala following the closure of liquor outlets in the past two years, a top Excise official said here today. State Excise Commissioner Rishiraj Singh also said drug abuse was high in Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala. Singh's comments came on a day when the Excise department arrested a person from here for allegedly carrying narcotic substance worth Rs 85 lakhs. "Abuse of banned substances has increased alarmingly in the state. It is the reflection of closure of 30 per cent of liquor outlets," the official said. The previous UDF government had closed more than 400 liquor bars while announcing its intention to introduce phased prohibition. Singh, a senior IPS officer, said 40 lakh students and 30 lakhs migrant workers were the target of drug mafia in the state. Most of the arrests in connection with sale of drugs were made from the neighbourhoods of schools and colleges in the state, he said. Singh said drugs like ganja were reaching Kerala through neighbouring Tamil Nadu. The Excise Department conducted 1.27 lakh raids across the state in 10 months from June 2016 and registered 23,600 cases under Abkari Act (excise act) and 3,600 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act,he said. A total of 22,000 people were arrested in connection with Abkari cases while 3,900 people in connection with abuse of narcotic drugs during the 10-month period, he said.
Singh said total prohibition was 'dangerous'. Citing media reports, the official said incidents of drug abuse had increased three-fold in Bihar but suggested an expert study to find out whether it was the result of prohibition. "Two states--Gujarat and Bihar-- have introduced total prohibition. Forty to fifty people die there every month consuming country-made liquor," he said.
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