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Check all cargo containers at ports for contraband : Amit Shah

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NEW DELHI : Cargo containers at all Indian ports will have to be scanned for contraband, Home Minister Amit Shah said at a meeting Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD), according to people familiar with the development.

Authorities at private and state-run ports will have to make arrangements for container scanners and related equipment, he instructed.

Concerned authorities will also have to build pool of dog squads that can sniff out outlawed narcotics, he said. The Narcotics Control Bureau will frame a policy in this regard in coordination with the National Security Guard so that law enforcement agencies in all states have access to canine squads that can detect illegal drug consignments.

The directions come three months after 3,000 kg of high quality Afghan heroin worth ₹210 billion was caught by the Directorate of Revenue and Intelligence at Gujarat’s Mundra Port run by Adani Group. An exclusive report came on the recovery of the largest ever haul of illegal drugs on September 20.

The government and security agencies have since then held a series of meetings to find ways to stop drug smuggling through containers, as it was deemed impossible for law enforcers to physically check every container entering the country.

Among other key decisions taken on Monday in the NCORD meeting to deal with the drugs smuggling include forming a dedicated Anti-Narcotics Task Force under state police chiefs, which will work as state NCORD secretariats; putting in place an effective system to stop increasing use of Dark Net and cryptocurrency in illegal drugs trade; and using drones, satellites and other technology to keep a watch on illegal drug cultivation across the country, the home ministry said in a statement.

NCORD was set up in 2016 under Director General of NCB for effective coordination among all drug law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders, and to also provide a common platform for discussions on drug trafficking related issues.

Among those who attended the meeting on Monday included NCB chief S N Pradhan, home secretary Ajay Bhalla, state chief secretaries, chiefs of paramilitary forces and other central agencies.

Shah also decided on Monday that a standing interministerial committee will be set up to curb misuse of dual-use precursor chemicals, which will be conducted by the ministry of chemical and fertilizers, and will have representatives from NCB, department of revenue and finance ministry.

Along with this, it was decided that “to stop misuse of dual-use prescription medicines, a standing interministerial committee under ministry of health and family welfare should be formed which having experts from department of pharma, National Medical Commission, NCB and the industry,” the ministry statement added.

The home minister further asked the agencies and states to prepare a narcotics training module at the national level so that police, central armed police forces, prosecutors and people from civil departments can be trained under it.

He directed to form a central NCORD unit under NCB at the national level, which will coordinate all anti-drug efforts with the state units, as well as to have an integrated NCORD portal for information exchange.

It was also decided that a national narcotics call centre called MANAS will be launched, elaborate awareness campaigns against drugs would be undertaken, and drug de-addiction centres will be established in all major prisons across the country.

Illegal drugs worth ₹18.81 billion was seized between 2018 and 2021, which was three times the value of such drugs seized between 2011 and 2014, the home ministry said.

Between 2018 and 2021, about 3.5 million kilograms of drugs were confiscated, while between 2011 and 2014, about 1.6 million kilogram of drugs were confiscated.

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