first_imgHemp grows illegally in vast stretches of Odisha’s inaccessible forested regions, making it one of the top marijuana-producing States in the country. The plant is luxuriant in highly-suited climatic conditions, and its growth is aided by low police movement in Maoist-affected hilly regions as well as pervasive rural poverty.Out of over 8,500 acres of cannabis crop destroyed across the country during 2016-17, Odisha accounted for 47% with 4,028 acres.‘More of it hidden’Despite the acreage of cannabis destroyed by enforcers going up three-fold in the State in the past five years, officials say the detected cultivation is just the tip of the iceberg.The crop season commences around September and it is harvested around February or March. In 2012-13, hemp grown on 1,305 acres was burnt. In later years, enforcement agencies destroyed 3,200 acres of the banned crop annually.Kandhamal, dubbed the nucleus of the ganja crop nationally, recorded destruction on 2,400 acres this year.One estimate says the value of ganja crop set on fire could be over Rs. 600 crore this year. Despite the measure, smugglers transport tonnes of it.The State Police, Excise Department and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) have made at least 15 major seizures during April and May. A truckload worth Rs. 1 crore was intercepted at Bhawanipatna on April 29 while 28 persons carrying 56 gunny bags stuffed with the weed were arrested in a forest under Mathili police limits in Malkangiri district on May 18. A dozen quintals was seized from a car in Khurda on May 2 and four girls with 19 kg were arrested in Balangir district in March.NCB sources said huge quantities of marijuana from Odisha were seized in neighbouring Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh during past two months.last_img

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