Imphal, December 20 2020: Manipur Chief Minister had declared war against drugs and destroying poppy plants over the last couple of days.
According to media reports, people residing close to the poppy plantation has a different story to tell. According to them poppy is cultivated quite successfully and profitably and Kamjong and Ukhrul districts are most suitable for poppy cultivation among all the hill districts of the Manipur.
The upper hill ranges of Motbung, Kangpokpi district are also quite suitable for poppy cultivation.
However, poppy is not cultivated in all the areas of Kamjong district, Ukhrul district and upper hill ranges of Motbung.
Poppy is mostly cultivated in those villages where the land holding right is totally controlled by village chiefs, said the villagers.
The Poppy Growers & Economics
Poppy farmers or people engaged in poppy cultivation are not local villagers. The people come from outside the village and there is at least one investor behind every poppy plantation who takes care of all financial requirements, they said.
At first, the investor would give Rs 20,000 to one farmer of which Rs 10,000 only is paid to the village chief for his ‘blessings’ and rest of the amount remains with the farmer. After getting Rs 10,000, the farmer would plant poppy on one acre.
If there are 50 farmers willing to plant poppy for Rs 10,000, the village chief would get Rs 5 lakh as commission towards ‘blessing’.
Further, the investor pays Rs 4/5 lakh to the village chief to ensure that no outsiders venture into his village, particularly the areas where poppy is cultivated, the villagers confided.
Poppy thus produced under this arrangement would be collected by the investor and the farmers are not al-lowed to sell their produce to any other person.
To make the farmers happy and keep them loyal to him, the investor would buy them television sets and generator sets at regular intervals, they said.
Destruction of poppy plants carried out by police and other law enforcing agencies as reported in media every now and then is of little value as the poppy plants have already borne fruits and the fruits have been harvested, said the farmers.
Even if poppy plants have been destroyed by law enforcing agencies, the farmers are given money by the investor for re-plantation.
Strangely, police hack down or destroy poppy plantations just a day or two after poppy flowers/fruits have been harvested and police never destroy poppy plants before the flowers/ fruits are harvested.
Police never hack down poppy plants when they are not mature enough, said the villagers.
Given the strange nature of destroying poppy plantations only after poppy flowers/fruits have been harvested, it is highly questionable whether poppy farmers, village chiefs, investors and law enforcing agencies are in contact with each other, they remarked.
As most of the poppy farmers are outsiders who do not belong to the village where they plant poppy, they can be sent back to their native villages after checking their voter identity cards or Aadhaar cards or domicile certificates.
The poppy farmers as well as the investors can be easily identified from the village chiefs, they said.
If such concrete and decisive actions are not taken up promptly, the Government’s plan to substitute poppy plantations with other alternatives will not bear any fruit, the villagers added.