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Poppies being erased beyond target in Nangarhar

Poppies being erased beyond target in Nangarhar

Apr 07, 2015 - 15:18

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Poppy crop grown over 1000 hectors of land would be eradicated as part of an ongoing eradication campaign in eastern Nangarhar province, an official said on Tuesday.

Though it remains unknown how many hectors of land is grown with the banned crop in the province, the provincial counternarcotics director says the plant has been grown on nearly 18000 hectors of land in 13 districts.

The campaign to eradicate the plant was launched two days earlier from the Ghanikhel district, where 175 acres of land was cleared, Mohammad Idrees Safi, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

He said the campaign involving joint Afghan security forces was ongoing in the Rodat district, where the crop would be destroyed on 250 acres of land.

“The Ministry of Counternarcotics had set us the target of eradicating poppy crop on 500 hectors of land, but we plan to destroy the crop on 1000 hectors of land by using all available resources,” the director said.

To a question that destroying the crop on just 1000 hectors out of 18000 hectors of land would not be insufficient, he said: “Yes, it is too much less, but you know the crop is sown in insecure areas and we are trying to destroy it beyond the target given to us.”

He said the ongoing campaign would be followed by another eradication drive to destroy the crop in areas left in the first round.

A student at Nangarhar University, Zabihullah, told Pajhwok Afghan News the government should destroy the poppy crop across the province.

He said the crop to be left untouched on 17000 hectors of land would produce thousands of kilograms of opium, which would create more problems.

A tribal elder in Shinwari district, Malak Rafiullah, told Pajhwok Afghan News the government should not only destroy the crop all over the province, but should also extend the awareness creating programme to every part.

“If the crop is destroyed in nearby districts and spared in remote parts, the residents of nearby towns would mind it ,” the elder said.

The elder said they would cooperate with security forces in eradicating the illicit plant.

Meanwhile, police said the poppy eradication campaign had been hitch-free so far amid close coordination among the security forces.

Nangarhar police spokesman Col. Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal said the security forces had not yet faced any armed resistance during the ongoing campaign.

He said residents were cooperating with security forces and the target would be achieved in the stipulated time.

The bulk of poppy crop is grown in Shinwari and Khogyani districts, according to local officials. However, the campaign was launched from the Ghanikhel district.

Residents said security forces had started eradicating the crop in areas near district centres and they seemed reluctant to move to remote parts.

A resident of the Ghanikhel district, Jehtullah, “The campaign came to an end yesterday in our district. The crop was destroyed in fields near the district centre and left untouched in remote parts.”

Provincial council member Ustad Israrullah Murad told Pajhwok Afghan News such campaigns targeted crops belonging to farmers who had no connections in the government.

“Those who have connections, their crops had never been destroyed during such campaigns. But I hope this time, the campaign will be implemented without any discrimination,” the public representative said.

He demanded security forces eradicate the crop in all areas and make Nangarhar a poppy free province.



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