Why Western Ghats is a haven for drug mafia | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: With drug gangs in neighbouring states finding the rich alluvial soil of the Western Ghats in Karnataka a lucrative source, farmers in districts of Kodagu, Hassan, Chikkmagaluru, Shivamogga, Uttara Kannada and Belagavi are increasingly growing ganja (marijuana) in the midst of regular crops.
It’s a win-win, discounting the risks. Farmers make up for losses from conventional crops, while the mafia makes a killing by marketing the final produce through Bengaluru and Mysuru. A police officer, who recently led a raid and destroyed ready-to-harvest ganja in Kodagu, said, “Drug lords from Kerala use local farmers or labourers to cultivate cannabis on government or forest land in Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru. Often, labourers have no clue they are doing something illegal. Drug lords also encourage locals who own land to shift from traditional farming to growing cannabis.”
A 10-acre plot yields about Rs 1crore worth of ganja, while a crop of paddy or maize would fetch only Rs 10-20 lakh. Police carry out raids, but only manage to nab labourers/farmers since the drug bosses only appear during harvest. Forest lands in higher reaches near Kodagu-Kerala border are also havens for the mafia.
“Earlier, locals preferred to cultivate cannabis in forest areas near their localities, but a crackdown by police forced them to move to higher reaches which can be accessed only by trekking,” an official said.
The trend of ‘recruiting’ local ryots, police and excise department officials say, has spread to drought-prone districts including Kolar, Chikkaballapura and some parts of North Karnataka and is fueled by rising demand for ganja in urban areas. Mixed with regular crops, marijuana is hard to find. “Only police or excise personnel can identify the plant,” an official said, adding farmers get Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000 per kilo for top quality produce.
Bengaluru police commissioner Kamal Pant, who served as SP in Shivamogga and Dakshina Kannada districts, said cultivation of marijuana is indeed a big menace.
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Sagar Biswas

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