Friday, April 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Addicts demand opium quota
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, April 6 — A large number of opium takers from all over the district today converged at the Civil Surgeon’s office here for the annual renewal of their licences for opium quota.

More than 70 such licensees today raised a lot of hue and cry. They were protesting against the authorities for not giving them their fixed quota of opium for the past three months.

Talking to TNS here today, a few of these addicts complained that they were now suffering because opium they consumed from “other sources” was adulterated.

Makkar Singh, 61, from Dhaipai village, who has a fixed quota of 30G of opium per month said:“I have been shelling out around 200 times more money to get opium from drug traffickers”. He also complained of acute pain in joints ever since his “quota from the government source was stopped. The practice of issuing licences to opium addicts was suspended in 1982. However the licensees already recognised have been receiving their monthly quota since.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Kaur said “We had 80 licence holders till this year”. The Health Department office here received the supply from the Excise Department at Patiala, which in turn received its supply from Uttar Pradesh. The quotas were fixed by a team of medical specialists at the time of issuing licences and have not been increased since.

“We are working at decreasing their quota and have also done so in case of several licence holders,” she explains.

Meanwhile curbs in the supply of opium has proved fatal for two of our fellow “amlis” (addicts), complained Bacchan Singh, 70, of Ludhiana who has a fixed quota of 45 G per month and has been an addict for more than 30 years. “People who have a smaller quotas do not suffer physically by taking opium from other sources, but those with a larger quota come under great strain” After much persuasion he admits to buying opium from drug traffickers and a few doctors in the form of tablets.

Shaadi Ram Lambardaar, 85, of Bhaini Sagib, who has been an addict for the past 50 years, informs that a few women peddle opium and other drugs to addicts as the rate of around Rs 200 per gram.

A 74-year-old opium addict from Bangian, alleged that opium was also available from a few police personnel in his village and at rates cheaper than other drug traffickers.

Dr Rajinder Kaur also informed that she had been corresponding with the officials of the Excise Department. The monthly supply of opium to addicts would be released soon.

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