Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Ganja cultivation in Tripura border villages sees drop

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Madhupur: The thriving marijuana cultivation in villages along the India-Bangladesh border in Tripura has drastically reduced following erection of barbed wire fencing and intensified vigil by the BSF.

A large number of villagers cultivated the contraband substance and smuggled it to Bangladesh across the porous border, but after the fencing came about, most of them shifted to other means of earning their livelihood.

One such villager is Paran Pal of Madhupur village who has now taken up vegetable farming in a small strip of land in the backyard of his house. Pal is one of roughly 3,000 ganja (marijuana) farmers who have shifted to alternative farming, but the money they earn is nothing compared to the returns they got from ganja cultivation.

“We used to cultivate ganja and sell it in the markets of Bangladesh at lucrative price. Besides, it was easy to cultivate it,” Pal said.

Ganja is quite popular in the neighbouring country because drinking is banned there, he said. Officials of the Agriculture Department corroborate the sharp downfall in the production of the substance, but refuse to attribute it to the erection of fencing alone. Intensified border patrolling by the BSF and raids by the Enforcement Department also played the part, not less the availability of jobs under different government schemes, say officials.

The Tripura police recently seized 1679.3 kgs of ganja worth Rs 8,40,000 this year and more than 28,000 saplings of the plant were destroyed. Four persons were also arrested, he said, adding the Enforcement Department has got a reward of Rs 26,600 for this.

Tripura is also home to another lucrative trade in the smuggling of Phensedyl, a cough syrup used for intoxication, to Bangladesh. Recently 3,30,000 bottles of the syrup were confiscated by the police at Churaibari in North Tripura district on November 19, the police said.

“The unofficial trade with Bangladesh has stopped and we are focusing on the legal trade with the neighbouring country, which is gaining momentum,” chairman of the Tripura Industrial Development Corporation and former minister for Trade and Commerce, Pabitra Kar, said.

“We are looking for alternative jobs for the people living on the fringe. We have sent a proposal to the central government to open seven border haats (markets) to legalise the unofficial trade and thus generate employment,” Kar said.

Police and BSF personnel said that border crimes like theft of cattle, daccoity and burglary had also come down due to construction of the fence. “We can at least sleep at night because Bangladeshi dacoits will not be able to enter our houses or take away cattle,” Haripada Das of Singerbil village said. (PTI)

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