The local newspapers are inundated with opium-related reports from the pockets of East Siang, Anjaw, Tirap, Changlang, Lohit and Capital Complex.
Opium abuse is a menace that plagues the country and more specifically our state. The prevalent cultivation of poppy plants in vast stretches of the eastern parts of Arunachal Pradesh has been a cause of pain and emotional turmoil for many families.
After years of continued abuse, many find it next to impossible to kick the addiction. Those who do manage to stop the self-abuse have a difficult time being accepted back in society. Many have to live with the stigma of being a former-addict and several never recover fully from the mental side-effects that its continued usage causes.
While the government appears sincere in its efforts to rid the state of this menace, there is still much more to be done. Besides conducting the usual round of awareness campaigns advising farmers against the cultivation of the plant, the administration must also encourage and provide alternatives of income generation to the farmers not merely in the form of advice and suggestions through power-point presentations, but also through practical methods.
It is not enough to merely prohibit its cultivation and then award punishment to defaulters. It is imperative that the government of the day provide financial, logistical and intellectual assistance to farmers willing to cultivate other crops.
It should be ensured that all necessary steps are taken by the administration that if people not abiding by the law are caught, they should be talked with instead of being talked at. While the administration is already taking great pains to start new initiatives, there is still a long way to go.
For the sake of the state and its people, we can only hope that though the road ahead will be a bumpy one, it should not be reason enough to turn around and return.
While the state government never stops making tall claims on the health sector, we are still dependent on Assam and other states for drugs rehabilitation.