Cite need for tightening security to check Mopa airport traffic, cargo
With the upcoming Mopa international airport expected to handle heightened passenger and cargo load, fear of possible smuggling of narcotic substances from major drug trafficking countries has prompted the anti-narcotics agencies to pitch for a dedicated unit of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in Goa.
An inter-agency coordination meeting of NCB, Goa Police, and senior government officials discussed the threat of narco-terrorism pan-India including Goa, being vulnerable to drugs smuggling.
“The airports and ports pose a big challenge because the organised drug cartels use these facilities to illegally traffic different forms of drugs. In recent months, central agencies intercepted boats carrying drugs into Indian territory. These were recovered but we apprehend constant attempts by international cartels could escalate narco-terrorism in India,” a senior officer said.
Though Goa has by and large remained safe from bulk smuggling of narcotics through Dabolim airport or the lone port, the NCB has sought to intensify security. At the same time, the meeting emphasised the need for a full-fledged NCB office with an additional number of investigation officers.
Besides South American and African countries pushing drugs into India, a huge quantity of which enters Goa given high consumer demand; the coastal State also faces a threat from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Sources revealed that Afghanistan has targeted India to traffic opium. “The country is the biggest producer as well as supplier of opium, which is used to produce heroin. In recent times, this pure form of drugs is being trafficked in India through international waters. Since Goa is a favourite tourist destination, we are certain the tourist State is on their list. Efforts are made to thwart increasing menace in Goa,” the source said.
Now with Goa getting an additional airport, the NCB and other central agencies are on their toes to ensure the new air facility is not exploited for drug smuggling. To strengthen its vigilance, the NCB’s proposal for a full-fledged office has been approved. “The posts are approved. The NCB will have its own space in Goa depending on the availability from the government or the agency itself, and additional staff,” said sources.
As per the data released about a decade ago, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata constituted around 94 per cent of instances of drug smuggling and seizures through its airports. “There is a link between narco trade and terrorist organisations. International airports, ports and couriers are common platforms to carry out trade. Our Central agencies are giving utmost priority to fight out narco-terrorism,” the source said conceding that Goa’s new airport is probably on the radar of the international drug cartel.
Meanwhile, during the inter-agency meeting held in the State on Tuesday, the Chief Secretary was urged to set up government-owned or affordable-priced rehabilitation centres for drug addicts.