New Delhi: Underlining the importance that the Indian government is placing on the need to eradicate drugs from the country with the objective of a "Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan", Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday asked all states to form and notify a dedicated Anti Narcotics Task Force (ANTF).

Shah's remarks came while presiding over the 3rd Apex Level Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) meeting organized by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) here in the national capital in hybrid mode. The meeting lasted for over two hours and it was attended by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, Director IB Arvind Kumar, Narcotics Control Bureau Chief SN Pradhan, Director Generals of Border Security Force and Sashastra Seema Bal, Chief Secretaries and DGPs of states and their representatives and administrators in the Union Territories (UTs) along with various concerned departments.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana also joined the meeting, organised in a hybrid model.

This high-level committee meeting was also attended by senior officers from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Revenue (Ministry of Finance) and Indian Coast Guard.

The Minister reviewed the prevailing drug trafficking and abuse scenario in the country and expressed his concerns over its emergence as a national threat.

Shah stressed the need for close coordination between the states and central government agencies to tackle this problem that transcends boundaries. He then underscored the importance of organizing NCORD meetings regularly at all the levels with participation of senior officers to tackle this problem.

For strengthening the coordination mechanism, the Home Minister asked: "all states to form and notify a dedicated Anti Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) which can also function as NCORD Secretariat at the state level".

To strengthen the existing mechanism and to spread more awareness among the people, the Minister directed to take some important measures such as the creation of a national NCORD Portal, the constitution of inter-ministerial standing committees (IMCs) to devise effective policies with regard to dual-use prescription drugs and precursors, raising of a national Narco canine pool, and establishment of drug de-addiction centres in all prisons of 272 most affected districts.

The Union Home Minister also stressed upon the capacity building of drug law enforcement agencies and directed NCB to design special training programmes for police, paramilitary forces, public prosecutors and employees of concerned civil departments at the national level on various areas of narcotics control.

Shah expressed his concern over increasing drug trafficking through maritime route which has become an emerging challenge on the coastal front of the country and emphasized on the involvement of all stakeholders in the state NCORD meetings especially of coastal states and suggested extending the mandate of the existing Joint Co-ordination Committee (JCC) also under NCB.

To make the "Nasha-Mukt Bharat Abhiyan" successful, Union Home Minister said that the involvement of people from all spheres of the society is sought for and for this government of India is going to establish 24 x7 toll-free National Narcotics Call Centre to have an interface with the public for sharing of inputs and information on drug matters.

As per the survey reports, the NCB said the number of drug abusers has increased approximately seven folds in the last two decades, which is alarming.

To protect, especially the children and youth, the Home Minister later emphasized that there is a need to create awareness against drugs and its ill effects from a young age by incorporating them in the academic curriculum.

He also appreciated the initiative of MHA and NCB in creating a government e-Portal (Say Yes to Life, No to Drugs) for taking a pledge against drug abuse and thus creating awareness among the people and directing it to be even more widespread.

As a commitment towards a 'Nasha Mukt Bharat', the Minister exhorted everyone to be part of this 'Jan Andolan' to make our society and country free from drugs and directed all Govt Agencies to work in synergy and coordination to overcome this menace.

Considering the widespread threat of drug abuse and trafficking in the country, the Centre had launched 'Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan' under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and constituted a four-tier narcotics coordination mechanism (NCORD), which extends up to district level.

The objective of NCORD is to bring all the central and state agencies involved in drug demand, supply and harm reduction on one platform to contain the drug menace in the country.

The NCORD is a mechanism under Director General NCB. It is constituted in order to have effective coordination among all the drug law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders, and also to provide a common platform for discussions on drug-trafficking related issues.

Revamped by MHA to create a 4-tier structure to improve coordination in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) matters, similar two NCORD meetings have been arranged in previous years and discussed issues related to NDPS policy and operational matters of the drug law enforcement agencies.