21 June, 2021

Stone Age

In Attappady, marijuana is a Rs 1,000-crore industry. It's still an impoverished nook, where is the money going?

Tony Thomas
Stone Age
On Kerala's map, Attappady is in Palakkad district. But for all practical purposes, it is neither in Kerala nor in India. In this tribal belt, the state government's writ does not run. This stretch of dense forest contiguous with the Silent Valley national park is ruled by the ganja mafia. It has ruined virgin forests in the Western Ghats to raise what are, by all accounts, some of India's largest illegal plantations of marijuana. Going by an internal March 23 note from the government agency, Attappady Hills Area Development Society (AHADS), the malaise has spread to alarming proportions. It says: "As per the report by the forest department, more than Rs 100 crore worth ganja plants were destroyed during the raids." The time-span for the 41 raids: the 16 months from October '03 to February '05. What is detected is often just one-tenth of the total crop, say international drug monitoring agencies. This is borne out by independent estimations which show Attappady's ganja cultivation has an annual turnover of between Rs 800-1,000 crore.

Strangely, this poor and isolated hill...

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