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Efforts underway to eradicate illegal poppy cultivation in Manipur: CM

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Imphal: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh asserted that efforts are underway to eradicate illegal poppy cultivation in the northeastern state.

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He said a review meeting was held in the CM Secretariat on Thursday to "deliberate on measures and renewed strategies to end the menace".

"Satellite mapping is being carried out and surveys are being conducted through unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to pinpoint locations of poppy plantations," he said.

During the meeting, images of the poppy cultivation were handed over to the superintendents of police of Kangpokpi, Churachandpur, Senapati and Ukhrul districts and they were asked to destroy the plantations by the end of this month with assistance from other agencies, the CM said.

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"Poppy harvesting season is on... hence efforts are being made to destroy the poppy plantations before harvesting," he said.

Singh also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the Centre's decision to erect fencing along the India-Myanmar border and suspend the Free Movement Regime (FMR).

"On behalf of the legislators and people of Manipur, I express my gratefulness to PM Modi, Home Minister Shah, all central cabinet ministers and party officials for the decision to fence the border," he said.

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"Sophisticated hybrid fencing along 1 km of the border has already started. I have seen the progress. Additionally, fencing along 20 km of vulnerable stretches, which are generally used for illegal firearms trafficking and immigration, will also commence soon," he asserted.

Manipur shares 398 km of international border with Myanmar, of which 10 km has already been fenced.

While Imphal Valley-based Meiteis have welcomed the Centre's decision to fence the entire 1,643-km-long India-Myanmar border and suspend the FMR, hills-based tribal Kukis and Nagas have opposed the move, stating it would sever ethnic ties with kin on the other side of the border.

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The chief minister also thanked Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the decision to form a High Powered Committee for consideration of "challenges coming out of fast population growth and demographic changes".

"There had been a long-standing demand from the people for the constitution of a population commission in Manipur... the committee to be formed by the Centre will meet the wish of the people of the state," he added.

Shah informed Parliament on August 9 last year that problems started in Manipur with the influx of Kuki refugees from neighbouring Myanmar after the military rulers in the neighbouring country started a crackdown against militants in 2021.

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The Kuki refugees started settling down in the jungles in Imphal Valley, raising fears of a demographic change in the region, Shah had said, adding that the unrest began when rumours started circulating that the refugee settlements had been declared as villages.

Shah's remarks had sparked protests by Kuki bodies that demanded clarification of the statement.

At least 180 people have been killed and thousands rendered homeless after ethnic violence erupted in Manipur between Meiteis and Kukis on May 3 last year.

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