Amarinder calls for a national policy to tackle drug menace

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has reiterated his demand for a national policy to tackle drug abuse.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, Singh urged him to advise ministries of Home, Social Justice and Empowerment, and Health and Family Welfare to address the issue.

"This important issue needs to be addressed with a little more seriousness than it has received so far," he wrote, according to an official statement released here.

The chief minister sought Modi's personal intervention for the formulation of a national policy focusing on three components -- enforcement, de-addiction and prevention -- to tackle the menace of drug abuse in the country.

Singh said a national policy would enable all states to follow a similar, if not the same, approach on drug abuse, which, he said, "has substantially hampered the health of the people, particularly the youth".

The chief minister expressed his state's willingness to associate with the officers concerned of the Centre not only to evolve the policy but also to put in place an effective mechanism for its implementation.

Besides, the chief minister also raised security concerns emerging out of narco-terrorism, saying these were rather grave in the context of Punjab, which shares a 553-km border with Pakistan.

Singh said substance abuse was undoubtedly a global problem entailing heavy socio-economic costs to both individuals and society.

"In the last two decades, the prevalence of illicit drug trafficking has assumed alarming proportions in India too," the chief minister said.

Citing a survey report, titled 'Magnitude of Substance Abuse in India', released in February 2019 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, Singh said, "Drug abuse in India is a significant problem and multi-pronged and coordinated policy interventions are required to tackle it effectively."

In his letter to Modi, Singh also touched upon several steps which the Congress government in Punjab has taken during the past two years to check the drug menace and to expand its outreach at the grassroots to make towns and villages "drug-free".

He also sought financial support from the Centre to increase the number of Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) clinics in Punjab, which he said, are currently being run on "meagre state resources".

Speaking at an event in New Delhi in October last year, Singh had said that Pakistan was "pushing" drugs through the borders to destroy the youth in the northern states and had called for a national policy to tackle the menace.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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