Over 60 percent of the prisoners in Vizag Central Prison are facing ganja smuggling cases.

Official figures reveal that 1,188 prisoners have been booked under NDPS Act. Twenty-eight prisoners have been convicted and are serving sentences varying from one to 10 years.

Of the 1,160 undertrials, 75 are female. Some of the accused hail from Tamil Nadu. Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Kerala, and other states.

Vizag Central Prison has 1,950 inmates, both convicts, and undertrials. Most of them are accused of ganja smuggling.

NCRB data said Andhra Pradesh has four central prisons located at Vizag, Rajahmundry, Nellore, and Kadapa. The available capacity in the four jails is 3,764 (3,634 male prisons and 130 female prisoners). They are filled to their capacity.

A senior advocate of Vizag agency G Maheswara Reddy said NDPS Act is very stringent and getting bail is difficult sometimes.

Cases are booked under three categories: Smugglers caught with one kg of narcotics, between 1 kg and 20 kg, and 20 kg and above.

For those booked for possessing hemp below one kilogram, getting bail is easy. It may take over six months to get bail for those booked for possessing drugs up to 20 kgs and above, Reddy said.

Legal experts said big sharks easily escape from the dragnet, while small fishes face the wrath of enforcement authorities.

Most of the prisoners who were caught transporting the weed were couriers. Some of them were tribals. Sometimes the undertrials struggle to get out of jail because they are unable to pay a surety bond.

Advocate Swaroop Kumar said a prisoner needs to pay a surety bond of Rs 2 lakh and two personal sureties. Most of the people booked under the NDPS Act are tribals from Vizag Agency and they do not have the cash to pay for bail.

As per estimates, hemp is being cultivated on 10,000 acres of land in the remote areas of the Vizag region. Around 0.2 percent of people in Andhra Pradesh use cannabis in the state.

The yield per acre is around 1000 to 1,200 kgs and the rate paid to the farmers is around Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 per kg.

Newsmeter Network

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