North on Red Alert against drug menace, alcohol abuse among youth

In order to overcome the drug menace and the excessive consumption of alcohol in the Province, the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) joined hands with the Northern Provincial Council (NPC). Consequent to a directive from President Maithripala Sirisena, a formal meeting between NPC Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and NDDCB officials was held in Colombo early this week, to formulate policies on controlling the current situation of drug usage and consumption of alcohol in the Province.

After the meeting CM Wigneswaran said that he had sought coordination from the IGP to put a full stop to the menace, in which he proposed to set up a Co-Committee with Senior Deputy Inspector General (DIG)s and PC ministers.

“The Committee would formulate policies to tackle this situation from the Province. For the second level, ‘Vigilance Committees’ (VC) will be set up comprising of the Superintendent of Police in those respective areas and PCs, as they are close to the grass root level of society. On the third level, I have suggested to have a ‘People-Police Relations Committee’ which will enable community leaders to keep the police informed of what is happening where. The IGP was very supportive and willing to set up such mechanisms,” he said.

JaffnaDrugsGraphicHe added that a strong awareness campaign should be initiated immediately with counseling, because the students are easily caught up into this due to peer pressure. “We have come out of war with traumatic experiences of death and destruction. Employment prospects for the youth are very less. Naturally, they have become the target of these social issues,” he said.

NDDCB Chairman, Dr Chamira Nilanga Samarasingha told the Sunday Times that he had formulated a structural mechanism consisting of the NPC, to stamp out drug usage in the Province, but support from the community is a must to ensure success.

“Following the meeting with the NPC CM, we intend to formulate an ‘Anti-Narcotic Task Force’, where the chairman would be the NP CM and myself as vice chairman, to implement the plans without any delay. The mechanism divided into three levels, from Super level where the Central Government and the Provincial government will coordinate. At ground level, it consists of Samurdhi officers, Grama Sevaka Niladharis and midwives,” he said.Dr Samarasingha said another separate mechanism has been formulated, including the Coastguard and the fishing community to prevent smuggling of Kerala ganja from South India and other regional drug hubs, into the county.

“At the school level, we intend setting up anti-narcotic school committees in all schools in the Province, to deter the availability of drugs within a radius of 500 meters from the school. The Principal and the Physical Education teacher would head the committee, while prefects and student leaders will keep them notified. As a necessary check and balance to all these mechanisms, if any principal fails to report to us on drug related activities within the school environment, we will refer him to the Education ministry for further action,” he said.

The Sunday Times reliably learns that, following a meeting on Monday at the NDDCB with NP CM and Minister of Public Order, John Amarathunga, a top security apparatus meeting was summoned at the NP Governor’s residence in Jaffna on Wednesday, with top police top officials, respective Commanders of the Tri-forces in the Province and District Secretaries, to formulate a strategy to combat the drug menace in the region.