KOCHI: The excise department in the district is in alert mode as it is the harvesting time of ganja being illegally cultivated in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The sleuths have found that the flow of ganja from other states has increased in recent weeks and checks are being carried out to prevent smuggling of the narcotic substances into the district. According to Ernakulam Excise Deputy Commissioner P V Elias, the harvesting period is in February and March when the flow of ganja from other states increases. In Perumbavoor alone, excise sleuths had made major seizures of ganja in the last two weeks.
“We seized over 21kg of ganja from Perumbavoor area in this period. Nine cases were registered and all arrested persons were from other states. As this is the ganja harvesting season, we expect an increase in smuggling of the narcotic substance these days. We have intensified checking and intelligence gathering to thwart attempts to smuggle ganja into the district. Most of the arrested persons brought ganja on trains,” he said. The department has put colonies of migrant workers under surveillance.
An official said information is being collected from the persons staying in these colonies. Apart from it, checks are being carried out at railway stations. “In recent years, interstate goods trucks coming with vegetables and fruits are being used for the smuggling of ganja. Ganja comes to the state mostly from Andhra Pradesh and Odisha via Tamil Nadu. The excise border posts are alert about possible smuggling,” an official said. Recently, a video of 2,00,000kg of dry ganja being burnt by Andhra Pradesh Police had circulated on TV news channels and social media platforms. The police believe that ganja is illegally cultivated in over 10,000 acres in Andhra Pradesh alone.
“It is the ganja cultivators from Kerala who had moved to states like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. They cultivate ganja in remote forest areas which are infected by Maoist groups. Ganja cultivation in Kerala has come down significantly,” the official said. In February, the department registered 68 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in Ernakulam district. As many as 29.51kg of ganja and 16 ganja plants were recovered in the district. Apart from ganja, the excise officials also seized a large quantity of MDMA and hashish oil in February.
At a glance
NDPS cases and seizures made by excise in Ernakulam in February
Number of cases: 68
Hashish oil: 151.2gm
Brown sugar: 1.538gm
Ganja plants: 16