‘ISRO helping us locate cannabis’: Odisha top cop after ‘record’ haul

The Odisha police on Tuesday claimed to have seized over 1,000 quintal of cannabis in the last 9 months, possibly the highest-ever seizure of the illegal drug by any enforcement authority in the country

“Between January and September, the state police seized a total of 1054 quintal of cannabis. This is a record,” said DGP Abhay. Of the 1,054 quintals, 413 quintals were seized from Koraput district while another 240 quintals were from Malkangiri, considered the hotbed of the cultivation. “ISRO satellites are helping us locate Ganja cultivation,” the DGP said.

As per the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) records, Andhra Pradesh had seized around 780 quintals of cannabis in 2017, the highest so far. Though the records of 2020 are yet to be released by the NCB, Odisha police officials said the force would top the cannabis seizure chart as there are two more months to go before the year ends.

“We hope to seize around 12,00 quintals of cannabis by the end of this year. If we add seizure by other agencies such as state excise department, DRI and NCB then the figure would be an all-time high,” said additional DGP of state CID Soumendra Priyadarshi.

“Our aim is not just to seize the cannabis, but go after the money trail and destroy the entire drug network. Very soon we would start destruction of cannabis cultivation in the hilly areas of the state,” he said.

Police officials said on an average, 414 quintals of cannabis have been seized every year over the last 5 years in Odisha, compared to 312 in the last 10 years.

“Action against drug trafficking remains among the highest priorities of the Odisha government. For the last couple of years, the Odisha police have been using ISRO’s data shared by the Narcotics Control Bureau to various agencies across the country to launch a crackdown on the illegal ganja and poppy cultivation. The satellite mapping of poppy cultivation has been stabilised in the last 10 years for which we are able to get accurate information. As cannabis mapping is a recent one, it will take some more time to get accurate data. Once it is done, we will be able to carry out drives with much precision,” said Abhay.

The cultivation of cannabis starts in September, at the end of monsoon season when there is less humidity and the temperature drops.

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