BY SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN
The Government intends to have more Police Stations posted in the islands in the Northern Province, Governor Northern Province H.M.G.S. Palihakkara told Ceylon Today. When Ceylon Today visited his office in Jaffna, the Governor said there are several projects that have been undertaken to address water and sanitation issues in the North.
He said that already land has been allocated for two new Police stations in the Delft Island and in Karainagar.
He said already lands have been allocated for the Police Station and the people in the islands also offered them a plot of land for the purpose.
“The priority is Police Stations for many areas and the Government is keen in establishing them.”
However, the Governor said that there is concern about the drug and high consumption of alcohol trend in the North and that they have taken measures to close down illegal wine stores; those that are operating in places that they are not supposed to be located.
“There are 34 wine stores identified which are not supposed to be in those locations.
The Surveyor General has been called upon to measure and identify the distances where the wine stores are located. According to the rules wine stores should not be located close to religious places and schools, the Governor said.
He said compared to other districts in the North, Jaffna has been identified as worst hit with drugs and alcohol.
In addition to the new Police Stations, a new jetty and medical facilities, including lab facilities for the hospitals in those islands will also be introduced, the Governor said.
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.
He 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.