CM Declares ‘War’ Against Tribal Chiefs Over Poppy Cultivation in Manipur

In a video message posted on social media, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh of Manipur issued a “last warning” to tribal village leaders in the state, demanding that they halt poppy cultivation on the mountainous slopes or face life imprisonment.

The Chief Minister expressed anger and frustration, stating that the tribal leaders had broken their promises and assurances regarding the issue. He emphasized that the issue was a matter of survival or extinction for human beings and that he would not compromise on it. The Chief Minister declared “war” against poppy plantations shortly after taking office in 2017. For such a campaign to be successful in the tribal areas of the hill State, it was critical that the village chieftains, whose word holds sway in their own domain, were on board.

In the beginning of the year, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had reported that the response from tribal leaders was overwhelmingly positive. He provided financial assistance to several leaders in order to help them transition to cultivating other crops after destroying their poppy plants. However, a year later, the situation has not improved as expected, with large areas in some hill districts still being used for poppy cultivation.

In his video message, the Chief Minister expressed concern about the environmental impact of the poppy cultivation, including the deforestation of the hills, blockages in mountain streams, and potential landslides.

“What is this? The mountains are bereft of trees and other vegetation which means that the mountain streams are choked, triggering mud and landslides. Without water, nothing can be grown, which threatens the lives of human beings,” he said on the video, as it showed poppy plants concealed behind consumable vegetation.

He stated that the government would now declare war against the tribal leaders and would not compromise with those who are endangering the lives of others for personal profit.

Source: The Hindu

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