EDITORIAL: Act in unison

Drug addicts are themselves victims who need care, treatment and their rehabilitation in society

Over the years, starting with free drugs availability of the late sixties and early seventies when Nepal became a hot destination for hippies and all those who wanted to go high, the problem of drug abuse has been ever increasing in Nepal.

Laws have been made tighter against drug abuse and drug traffickers; various campaigns promoting Say No to Drugs have continued unabated; law-enforcement bodies have recruited more cops and experts and set up more departments or units to deal with the matter and trained more people how to tackle the menace; billions of rupees of aid has poured into Nepal to fight drug abuse and trafficking; dozens of NGOs have been operating to control drug abuse; and both at government and non-government level coordination with international agencies has been strengthened to jointly fight this problem.

Indeed such efforts have been visible. But equally visible has been the steady increase in the number of drug abuse in the country, destroying the lives of tens of thousands of our youths over the years and burdening society in a number of ways.

According to the latest survey report “Current Hard Drug Abusers in Nepal, 2013”, published by the Ministry of Home Affairs, most drug abusers were young men and women and many have died of overdose and excessive abuse.

According to the report, the country’s urban areas have been facing the problem more than the rural areas. Between the two survey years, 2007 and 2013, the number of drug addicts in the country almost doubled from 46,309 to 91,534.

The highest number of drug addicts, i.e. 36,998, lives in the Kathmandu Valley, followed by other districts particularly affected by drug addiction – Sunsari, Kaski, Morang, Jhapa, Rupandehi, Chitwan, Banke and Parsa. The rest of the country is reported to have 11,097 drug abusers.

Now, since the survey period, other reports of non-governmental sources have put the estimates of drug addiction at higher and growing figures.

It points out the need to review the policies, implementation strategies, the relative priorities, etc, and the overall effectiveness of the entire anti-drug campaign. The ever-rising curve of drug addiction in the country exposes the deficiencies in our anti-drug campaigns, legislation or its implementation.

Drug addicts are themselves victims who need care, treatment and their rehabilitation in society is equally important. Drug abusers are seen here and there even by common people or even on the streets but nobody, even law-enforcement people, seems to take much notice.

Most rehab centres do not follow methods which may take care of all the problems drug addicts suffer from; for example, most do not have medical treatment and the services of psychiatrists. In the first place, most people do not have the money to pay for the cost of a rehab centre.

From the drug addicts themselves, important clues can be obtained regarding the supply lines of drugs, and this source should be utilized fully to nab drugs dealers. Apart from family members, schools and colleges can also play an important role.

In sum, the whole community and the nation should act in unison. Towards this end, all anti-drugs efforts should be directed.

Save cultural sites

As many as sixteen cultural and heritage sites mostly located on the banks of the Bagmati River are on the verge of extinction due to lack of maintenance, encroachment and rapid urbanization.

Some of the sites, including Shivadev Basaha in Budhanilkantha, are date back to fourth century and they represent the early days of the Newar civilization of the Kathmandu Valley which boasts of having seven world heritage sites.

Officials at the Department of Archaeology said most of the sites located on the river banks were damaged in the last year’s earthquake.

Cultural and heritage sites, monuments, temples and shrines are testimony to history and growth of human civilization.

These sites need to be well preserved in their originality so that the coming generations will be able to learn history, culture, sculpture and knowledge that our forefathers had pursued in ancient Nepal.

The Department of Archaeology must leave no stone unturned to renovate them no matter how long it would take to bring them back to their originality.

The government should prohibit people from encroaching upon the invaluable sites that have withstood changes over centuries.