Under Operation Parivarthana, over 47,000 kgs of ganja have been seized since November 2021.

A police man using a long stick to ensure that the ganja is burnt on the pyre
news Drugs Saturday, February 12, 2022 - 19:14

Many people watched with curiosity and anticipation at the spectacle taking place in an open ground in Kodur village in Andhra Pradesh. In a first of its kind instance (and much to the disguised dismay of some), the Andhra Pradesh police were preparing to set fire to 2 lakh kilos of ganja. Erecting huge pyres in the ground in Kodur, which is in Anakapalle mandal, Visakhapatnam, the Andhra Pradesh police carried out the exercise. Many on Twitter were curious to know  if the smoke would cause police, journalists and others present at the site to “get a high”. However, apparently, all that the massive flames did was gave many a headache, and apparently, no one got high.

Reporters who covered the event said that they did not experience the intoxicating effect from the ganja burning, but a few did have mild headaches, which could be attributed to the raging fire and the thick smoke. The police said that they used sugar and camphor to cut down the effect of the ganja’s smoke.

The exercise was part of ‘Operation Parivarthana’, an initiative to eradicate the drug menace in the state. The value of the destroyed banned substance was valued at around Rs 500 crore, according to police.  Destruction of such large quantities of drugs was a first in the country, police said. 

Police chose Kodur as the location for this spectacle, as there were no residents in a 4-km radius. The other residents in the vicinity were asked to remain indoors as a precaution as the burnt weed could cause headache or intoxication.

Operation Parivarthana was launched on November 1, 2021. So far, as part of this Operation, 47,986.934 kgs of ganja and 46.41 litres of hashish oil have been seized along with 314 vehicles, 577 cases filed, and 1500 persons arrested. Marijuana is banned under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985. The Act prohibits the sale and purchase of marijuana.  Police said that 406 teams are part of Operation Parivarthana.

According to police, large-scale cultivation of ganja is being done in the districts bordering Odisha, like Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh. Using satellite images, police found that 23 districts in Odisha and 11 mandals in Visakhapatnam are cultivating the banned crop. Authorities have destroyed 7,552 acres of ganja as part of the initiative, in which 400 acres of crops were destroyed by farmers themselves, police said.

As mostly tribal communities have been cultivating marijuana,  police are also doing public awareness campaigns. Since the inception of the programme, 1,963 awareness campaigns have been conducted in which over 70,000 people have participated. Police also erected 120 checkposts to curb the menace.

Andhra Pradesh launched a crackdown on drugs after neighbouring states like Telangana and Karnataka pointed fingers at them for not controlling the substance’s proliferation. Telangana police, as part of their campaign against drugs, made some arrests in their jurisdiction, causing embarrassment to the Andhra Pradesh police.  The issue became more serious after the state’s Leader of Opposition, N Chandrababu Naidu, alleged that the state was turning into a drug hub under the helm of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. 

Read: Ground report: Why Andhra cops are destroying the ganja crops they ignored for years

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