Phulbani, Dec 10:
Personnel of the excise department and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of the police destroyed ganja worth over Rs 72 crore during joint raids over the last four days in Kandhamal district.
Excise Superintendent of Kandhamal, Siba Shankar Gantayat told newsmen that about 7.23 lakh ganja plants, worth around Rs 72.30 crore in the open market, was destroyed during joint raids in Phiringia, Khajuripada and Gochhapada police station limits.
Gantayat said 190 officials and 60 labourers were engaged in the operation.
Many innocent and gullible tribal villagers of Phiringia, Luisingh, Gochhapada, Balabadi Sasipadar, Burudibali, Sunamudi, Kanibali, Pallaburudi and Rakudi under Phiringia and Gochhapada areas have taken to illegal cultivation of ganja.
Ganja mafia, mostly from Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Mumbai, coerce the poor and needy villagers to undertake ganja plantation in these areas instead of traditional crops like turmeric, ginger and paddy by providing them with high yield ganja seeds and loan advances, said Gantayat.
Gantayat further said that 8.30 lakh ganja plants, worth approximately Rs 115 crore, were uprooted and set on fire last year.