The Odisha Police has set up a coordination committee, comprising officials of revenue, excise and forest departments, to crack down on ganja cultivation in the state. A meeting of top officials of excise department, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and police superintendents of districts, where ganja cultivation is rampant, was chaired by DGP R P Sharma yesterday to determine their plan of action in this regard. Stating that Odisha has emerged as the second state in the country, followed by Himachal Pradesh, to eradicate ganja plantation, ADG (crime branch), Santosh Kumar Upadhaya, said a coordinated effort could end the menace in Odisha. He said a blueprint has been prepared in the meeting for wiping out ganja plantations during the harvest period between November and January. The Odisha Police has set a target to destroy 4,000-acre hemp cultivation in 2017-18, he added. A source in the crime branch of the Odisha Police said ganja cultivation in several hilly areas of the state has been on the rise for several years now. Around 1300 acres of hemp was destroyed in 2012-13, but another 4000 acres were reported in the financial year 2016-17 in the state, a senior NCB official said. Tribal-dominated Kandhamal district was found to be the worst-affected.
The police had destroyed 243 acres of ganja in 2013-14, 727 acres in 2014-15, but the plantation area rose to 1341 acres in 2015-16 and 2,072 acres in 2016-17. "Suitable climate, hilly terrains and support from local people made Kandhamal district a safe haven for the ganja cultivators," a police official said on the condition of anonymity.
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