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West Bengal to Use Satellite Imagery

To crack down on poppy cultivation and narcotics trade along the India-Bangladesh border, the West Bengal excise department plans to use intensive satellite imagery by the end of this year or early next year.

The department plans to bring certain pockets in Malda and Murshidabad, which are the two districts notorious for illegal poppy cultivation and narcotics trade- under intensive satellite imagery system. Illegal poppy cultivation is used mostly to produce opium.

This system will capture minute details of the areas under focus and with these images one can identify crops and even detect movement of people across the border, said state excise department sources.

A senior officer of the Bengal excise department. “certain central agencies such as Narcotics Control Bureau, Border Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal are using this high-end satellite tracking system. The state government will talk to the Centre for installing the system for the state excise department.”

Bengal will be the second state after Odisha to install this system. To keep track of Maoists suspected of being involved in the narcotics trade, Odisha installed the system earlier this year.

According to the officer, the proposed pockets in Malda district in focus include Kaliachak, Manikchak, Harishchandrapur and Malatipur. In Murshidabad district, Raninagar, Suti and Jalangi and a few other areas will be under the scanner.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act or NDPS Act empowers the Central Government to permit and regulate cultivation of opium poppy for medical and scientific purposes but most cultivation are illegal.


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