Centre asks Punjab government to remove survey report from website

The Union government says it has not officially accepted the survey on opioid dependent population in Punjab

New Delhi: The Union government has objected to the Punjab government releasing a survey on opioid dependent population in the state and asked it to immediately remove it from its website as the report has not been officially accepted by it.

According to senior government officials, the survey was conducted by the ministry of social justice and empowerment and the report was sent to the Punjab government for its comments.

But instead of giving its comments and suggestions, the state government uploaded it on its official website, people familiar with the matter said.

As per the survey report, there are about 2.3 lakh opioid dependent people in Punjab, of whom 76% are aged between 18 and 35 years. The findings also indicate that there is a huge illegal market for opioid drugs in Punjab and that opioids worth 7,500 crore are consumed every year.

“Before we accept the report, we wanted to have the comments of the Punjab government on the report. Accordingly, it was forwarded to Jaspal Singh, principal secretary, for his comments on 26 November 2015. The comments are still awaited," said the letter sent to the chief secretary, Punjab government.

“It has further been pointed out to us that the report has been placed on the website of the department of health, government of Punjab," said the letter. “I would be grateful if you could personally look into the matter and direct the authority concerned to remove the contents from the official website at the earliest as this report has not been accepted by the ministry yet," the letter said.

The ‘Punjab opioid dependence survey’ was jointly conducted by the Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses and the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The survey covered 3,620 opioid dependent individuals across 10 districts—Bathinda, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Moga, Patiala, Sangrur, Tarn Taran—which together house about 60% of the population of Punjab. PTI