Records with the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment show that 43,180 persons have checked in for deaddiction treatment in Maharashtra since 2007, which is higher than any other state. The numbers (which are a fraction of the actual number of drug users or addicts) also point to a worrying trend: drug abuse in Maharashtra is fast spreading out of the traditional urban centres like Mumbai into the hinterland and mofussil towns.
Experts call this the ‘applecart syndrome’, in which narcotics bound for Goa fall off on Maharashtra’s highways–much like apples from a cart–and are leading to increasing drug abuse in districts like Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara.
“Mumbai has traditionally been a conduit for the drug trade and consequently, the number of users here has always been large. The city also gets addicts from all over the country who check into rehabilitation facilities here. Nearly 10,000 drug users have gone in for deaddiction in Mumbai at some time or the other in last three years,” said Dr Yusuf Merchant, a leading anti–drug crusader who has been working in the field for the last three decades. IT, foreign students fuelling Pune drug crisis Mumbai: The state has earned the dubious honour of having the most number of drug users registered for de–addiction in the country. What seems to have caught the attention of anti–drug experts such as Dr Yusuf Merchant is that while Mumbai has always had a market for cocaine, hash, cannabis and other upmarket party drugs like ecstasy, cheaper substitutes–mainly heroin–are flooding smaller towns. And most of this heroin in circulation is not from the international drug hub of Afghanistan, but sourced domestically from Uttar Pradesh.
“UP is one of those rare places where opium is produced legally for medicinal use. In reality, most of it is pilfered and sold for huge profits in the black market,” Merchant said. Large quantities of the drugs produced in UP are smuggled by road to Goa and on the way also being sold to local drug mafias in Maharashtra.
Pune is a city that typifies the kind of narcotics crisis the state is facing. “Seven National Highways and two big rail lines cross Pune. So you can imagine the potential to pump in drugs here,” said Sanjay Bhagat of Mukatangan, a deaddiction centre in Pune. Moreover, in the last decade, the city has seen a boom in the information technology industry and the number of foreign and Indian students coming in for higher studies. “Both techies and outstation students have emerged as groups fuelling the demand for narcotics in Pune,” Bhagat said.
“The solution will lie in reducing supply–which is essentially the job of law enforcement agencies–and reducing demand, which depend on awareness created by media and NGOs,” said Merchant. Apart from Maharashtra, the other states where number of registered addicts is high are Uttar Pradesh Karnataka, Orissa and Manipur.
No Shot In The Arm This
Top five states in terms of persons registered for deaddiction (since 2007)
- Maharashtra – 43,180
- Uttar Pradesh – 41,621
- Karnataka – 25,529
- Orissa – 25,314
- Manipur – 20,328
Source: Times of India