Govt to hold anti-drug awareness programmes

Kathmandu, June 18

The Ministry of Home Affairs today said it was going to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 2017 as a ‘wake-up call’ to warn people about the harmful effects of drug abuse.

The theme of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (June 26) is ‘Listening to children and youth is the first step towards helping them grow healthy and safe’.

Joint Secretary Kedar Neupane, chief narcotics officer at the MoHA, informed that a committee led by Minister for Home Affairs Janardan Sharma was formed to conduct a week-long (June 20 to 26) awareness programmes, including rally, workshop, public service announcement and interaction with special focus on schools and colleges, medical stores and cargo entrepreneurs, among others.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs in association with various governmental and non-governmental organisations has decided to step up vigil on the production, possession, storage, transportation and consumption of illicit drugs to end the social problem facing the country and save the young generation from drug abuse,” informed Neupane.

He said an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug abuse through scientific measures would be an effective investment for the well-being of those addicted to drugs, their families, and their communities.

SSP Dhiru Basnet, in-charge of the Narcotics Control Bureau, said Nepal was being used by international drug trafficking rings as a transit to push hard drugs, including cocaine and heroin, to the destination countries while the growing abuse of psychoactive substances and injectable drugs had emerged as a big problem in Nepal.

“The annual growth rate of drug users is 11.36 per cent since 2007. Though we are doing our best to control supply, the lack of awareness among people about the health, economic and social consequences of drug abuse continue to hit the nation. If the demand for drugs amongst users decreases, it will automatically discourage the racketeers,” he warned.

NCB said it arrested and initiated legal action against as many as 16,717 persons for their involvement in smuggling and peddling drugs over a period of six years (2011-2016) across the country. Of them, 15,942 are male and 775 female. They comprise 892 foreigners, including 808 Indian nationals. The arrest of drug traffickers is on the upward trend annually despite slight drop in 2015. As many as 2,174 persons were arrested in 2011 against 2,600 in 2012, 2,673 in 2013, 2,918 in 2014, 2,656 in 2015 and 3,696 in 2016.

NCB seized 126,007 kg cannabis, 15,522 kg hashish, 50 kg heroin, 128 kg opium, 31.5 kg cocaine and 12,70,498 ampoules of controlled pharmaceutical drugs during the period.

A study conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2013 shows that the number has nearly doubled to 91,534

in 2013 from 2007.

However, Basanta Raj Kunwar, chief of Narconon Nepal, estimated that Nepal was home to over 200,000 drugs users, including 26,000 women, at present and stressed an urgency to save them.