If permitted, Bengal govt will cultivate poppy under strict vigilance in state-run farms

Kolkata : The West Bengal government has communicated to the Centre that if permitted, the state government will arrange for cultivation of poppy seeds under strict vigilance and restricting the production to state-run agricultural farms only.

On Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced on the floor of the Assembly that she has written to the Centre seeking permission for poppy cultivation in West Bengal considering the increased demand of it as a favourite Bengali palate against the sky-rocketing price of the product in the market.

A senior state government official said that in the communication to Union Revenue Secretary Sanjay Malhotra, the state government has outlined the detailed infrastructure available in the state so that poppy cultivation can be done to prevent its misuse in manufacturing of psychotropic and narcotics substances.

“In the letter, the state government has provided the details of the state-run agricultural farms which can be used for the purpose of poppy cultivation under strict vigilance,” the official said.

According to the state Agriculture Minister Sovandeb Chattopadhyay, there are currently 160 state-run agricultural farms, some of which can be utilised for poppy cultivation under strict vigilance of the state machinery.

“The demand for poppy as a palate is maximum in West Bengal. So if the state is allowed poppy cultivation, the dependence on imported poppy will come down to a great extent. This will also economically benefit the state and the country,” he said. The Chief Minister had on Thursday also sought the support of the opposition BJP in pushing the demand on this count.

Currently, poppy cultivation is allowed only in three states — Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The West Bengal government’s contention is that the cultivation of this particular variety of seed is allowed in three states where the demand is much lower compared to that in West Bengal.

This is not the first time that the West Bengal government has demanded permission to cultivate poppy. Banerjee had raised the matter at the Eastern Zonal Council meeting in Bhubaneswar, which was chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah. However, no positive decision has come on this count so far.



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