Delhi's police stations are repository of seized drugs

New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS) Delhi's police stations are apparently overflowing with seized drugs, valued at crores of rupees in the narcotic market, as there is no place to keep them.

With many quintals of cannabis, opium, heroin, cocaine and several banned drugs being kept in police stations for the past year, many officials have complained they are unable to work as the stench from the seized drugs has made it difficult for them to sit in the premises.

A police officer, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that the seized drugs used to be kept at 'District Najir', a Delhi government-run godown inside the premises of the Tis Hazari courts in north Delhi.

But, the officer said, they were told last year by the Delhi government's revenue department, which runs the godown, that seized drugs could no longer be kept there. "They told us that they are facing a space and staff crunch and so won't be able to keep the drugs," the officer said.

The District Najir - a name coined by the British colonial rulers - stores all the items seized by the police. These are either returned to the claimants, auctioned or disposed of when a trial ends. In the case of drugs, the authorities burn them.

When IANS visited the District Najir, an officer said they are facing acute staff shortage and so managing the seized articles and disposing of the drugs was a problem.

"We are facing a staff crunch. Since last year, we have stopped taking the seized drugs," the officer told IANS.

The three-story building houses six godowns or warehouses.

According to another police officer, they are facing a tough time in managing the drugs in the police stations.

"We are keeping these drugs in the station itself for want of a better place. On many an occasions, the seized material is so huge that its value runs into crores of rupees. In some cases, the trials have ended, but we still store them as there is no other option," the officer added.

Another police officer said they also have to keep an eye on the drugs.

"There is the threat of the drugs getting stolen from the police stations. Small quantities can easily be taken away and sold in the open market as in some police stations, they are kept outside the 'maalkhana' (store room)," the officer said, on condition of anonymity.

Delhi has 180 police stations.

According to police estimates, from January till September 15, 337 cases have been registered and 404 people arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, against 709 cases and arrests last year.

In the same period, 15 kg of heroin, 50 kg of opium, 2,499 kg of ganja and 340 grams of cocaine have been recovered.

The cost of one kg of cannabis is around Rs.40,000 to Rs.50,000; one kg of heroin costs around Rs.1 crore; while one gram of cocaine costs around Rs. 5,000.

According to official figures, the trial in 182 narcotics cases are over and the courts have ordered that the drugs need to be disposed of. "The estimated cost of these drugs runs into crores of rupees," Deputy Commissioner of police Bheesham Singh told IANS.

To dispose of the drugs, officers need to take environmental clearances and these are then burned in an isolated area.

(Alok Singh can be contacted at alok.s@ians.in)

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