KOZHIKODE: 'Vimukthi,' the Kerala state mission for de-addiction, started two years ago with the laudable objective of spreading awareness against alcoholism and drug abuse, has failed to make any impact so far. The funds allotted to it have gone down the drain as none knows how many people have benefited from the project. Vimukthi, which was initiated by the present LDF government soon after it assumed office in 2016, is an example of how public funds can be wasted on a project without any direction.
Till date, the government has spent over Rs 4.66 crore in all the 14 districts, whereas the excise department does not know how many persons were identified as alcoholics and de-addicted. Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan had told reporters here recently that the government wanted to reduce the consumption of alcohol, rather than enforce any ban. The government would focus on programmes like Vimukthi as a solution, he added.
It is being implemented with the help of Student Police Cadets, anti- addiction clubs of schools and colleges, National Service Scheme, Kudumbasree, State Library Council and anti- alcoholic organisations of students, youth and women. However, while confirming the huge expenditure for the project, the excise department said that no doctors or counsellors had been employed for the project. The lower- level officials said on condition of anonymity that no direction had been given on how to coordinate between other departments like health or social justice.
Meanwhile, the government has announced new campaigns. DGP Loknath Behera announced 'Aspirations 2018' on March 3 to create narcotic clubs in schools to make them drugs-free. On his Facebook page, he sought the involvement of the public, especially parents and teachers to stop the use of drugs. Though several officials of the excise department are taking personal efforts to identify and de-addict people, they are clueless about the project and how to identify the addicted children just by speaking against the drugs.
"We have plans to start de-addiction clinics in association with the health department by the end of April or the beginning of May. Though there are individual efforts by the officers to identify the addicted persons, there are no official statistics on how many addicts were identified. Once the de-addiction centres are started in each district, we would be able to identify the number of addicts," says Mr Ajith Lal, joint excise commissioner, who leads awareness campaign....