Giving further impetus to his government’s efforts to wipe out the drugs menace from the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday directed the Health Department to strengthen the network of OOATs as well as government and private de-addiction and rehabilitation centres by linking them with Aadhar, while ordering waiver of Rs. 200 user admission charges at the government run centres.The waiver of admission charges would be in addition to the free treatment already announced by the Chief Minister for drug abuse victims coming to the various centres.Linking the centres with Aadhar would ensure prevention of duplicate registration, said the Chief Minister, at a meeting with DCs and SPs/CPs of all the districts to review the progress of his government’s anti-drug campaign.The Chief Minister was informed that two helplines (181 for Police and 104 for the Health Department) were working round the clock to provide easy and confidential access to victims and their families, as well as informers.Expressing concern about reports that some private centres had sales of over Rs 1 lakh per day for Buprenorphine, Captain Amarinder Singh ordered the police and health officials to crack down aggressively on sale of de-addiction drugs, which were being misused by addicts, usually leading to dangerous consequences, including death.
He also asked the officials to undertake strenuous check on sub-letting of pharmacies.The Chief Minister was apprised of the progress of the pilot project launched to track drug sales against prescription from chemists in order to check unauthorised sales. Captain Amarinder Singh agreed with the views expressed by PPCC president Sunil Jakhar that party MLAs should be involved in making a perceptible change on the ground to make the people feel that the situation had changed from what it was under the previous regime. Jakhar earlier attributed the problem to political patronage provided to drug trade by the Akali government.The Chief Minister reiterated his previous instructions to the police and administrative officials to give due respect to the elected representatives. They should work together to make Punjab completely drug-free, he added.The Chief Minister also announced that his government will give rehabilitated addicts priority in self-employment schemes under Ghar Ghar Rozgar programme. He suggested considering informers for government jobs as an incentive.
Education and awareness to motivate the victims and their families to fight the social stigma and come to the de-addiciton and rehabilitation centres also needed to be further strengthened, he added.Health department officials informed the meeting about `Navjeevan – a mobile application launched for registration of drug addicts. Another app would be launched soon to enable the people to provide information anonymously, they disclosed.The meeting decided to start mobile OOAT vans to visit villages to provide door-step medication to the addicts.The meeting was informed by police officials that 40% people were currently in prison for drug related offences. Small-time peddlers were allowed to opt, under the NDPS Act, for de-addiction in lieu of prison term but this provision was not being used properly, they said. The Chief Minister directed steps to educate the jailed small-time offenders in this regard.The meeting was attended, amongst others, by Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, PPCC president Sunil Jakhar, along with DGP Suresh Arora, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Additional Chief Secretary Home N S Kalsi, Additional Chief Secretary Health Satish Chandra and Nodal Officer DAPO Rahul Tewari.