NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha members on Tuesday demanded that the government build more rehabilitation centres for drug addicts instead of sending them to jail. They also sought the construction of more sports complexes to keep youngsters away from substance abuse.
Participating in a short-duration discussion in the Lok Sabha on the drug-abuse problem in India and steps taken by the government to control it, members cutting across party lines demanded that the Centre adopt a Covid-like strategy to wean the youth away from drug abuse.
Congress member Gurjeet Singh Aujla demanded stricter law enforcement to check drug abuse and also highlighted newer routes such as Gujarat used by traffickers.
“Jails are a breeding ground for drugs. It is better that small criminals and first offenders be sent to juvenile or correctional institutions rather than jails,” he said.
The DMK’s Veeraswamy Kalanidhi also demanded that drug addicts be placed in rehabilitation centres and not jails. He urged the government to set up more rehabilitation centres — at least one in every parliamentary constituency.
Kalanidhi also urged the government to spend at least Rs 50 crore in every parliamentary constituency to set up sports complexes to keep youngsters engaged in meaningful activities that would keep them away from drugs.
He demanded stricter compliance of rules related to sale of prescription drugs to ensure that such medicines were not sold over the counter by pharmacies.
The DMK member also demanded that medical shops selling prescription drugs over the counter should be dealt with in the same manner as peddlers.
Trinamool member Kalyan Banerjee demanded stringent steps by the government to stop drug smuggling.
Banerjee said successive governments had failed to deal with the drug menace or educate the children against substance abuse.
“Government after government has failed to stop it. This government has to stop it at any cost,” he said.
The BJP’s Satyapal Singh urged the government to focus on moral education in school curricula and encourage a culture of sports to pull children away from addiction.
He said rehabilitation centres for addicts should be supervised and demanded monitoring of the darknet and cryptocurrency.
YSR Congress leader PV Midhun Reddy demanded that the government adopt strategies similar to those implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to crack down on drug abuse.
He suggested that the government organise yearly screenings at every college across the country to check for drug abuse among students.
“Screening is very important to check drug abuse. It should be done even if it comes at a huge cost,” Reddy said.
NCP member Supriya Sule underlined the need to de-stigmatise drug abuse and mental health. She said when actors Sanjay Dutt and Deepika Padukone spoke publicly about their struggles with drug addiction and depression, respectively, it helped many people speak out about such issues.
She also suggested including lessons on drug abuse in school education to create awareness about its ill-effects and made an impassioned plea to put addicts into rehabilitation centres instead of jails.
The short-duration discussion also witnessed some heated exchanges as some members raised issues of drug abuse in Punjab and deaths due to consumption of illicit liquor in Bihar.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal of the Akali Dal alleged that the future of Punjab’s youth was being ruined because Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann himself was “driving the state while drunk”.
Kunwar Danish Ali of the BSP said the whole House should be united to save younger generations from drugs.
“We need to focus on where drugs are coming from. Without loopholes in the system, drugs will not reach the youth.
“In the last few months, reports have come that drugs worth thousands of crores have been seized at ports. Gujarat was named… I know what the minister would say, he’ll say earlier it was not seized,” said Ali.
He also mentioned actor Rhea Chakraborty, who was booked for allegedly buying marijuana, and the arrest of Shahrukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan.
“It can be your children as well, don’t use it for political score,” he said.
Congress member Hibi Eden said controlling the drug menace should be on the agenda of the upcoming G20 summit.
The Lok Janshakti Party’s Prince Raj also mentioned the recent hooch tragedy in Bihar.
“Our chief minister said those who drink alcohol will die; this is an anti-Dalit statement,” he said.
J&K National Conference member Hasnain Masoodi said the problem was not with the law but enforcement.
“Prosecution failed in most cases because there was no investigation in accordance with rule,” said Masoodi, a former judge of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. (PTI)