New Delhi: In an effort to prohibit the illegal business of narcotics flourishing in the country, the Centre has announced a national policy for its regulation and control. It has been suggested that the processing of opium should be handed over to private sector companies and programmes in several phases should be conducted to suppress the consumption of opium and other drugs.

In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Union Cabinet approved the National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS). In a statement released by the Cabinet, it has been said, “The policy attempts to curb the menace of drug abuse and contains provisions for treatment, rehabilitation and social re-integration of victims of drug abuse.”

More so, the private sector may also be allowed for production of alkaloids from opium and products from poppy straw. Earlier, only government run companies were granted permission to carry out this task.

It said implementation of the policy "will lead to reduction of crime, improvement in public health and uplifting of the social milieu". In order to keep a check on the illicit cultivation of opium, the government will use satellites to destroy such crops. The policy also has provision of creating alternative livelihood for farmers who are into this business.

Following this Pranab Mukherjee laid stress on controlling the trafficking of narcotic materials.  "Trafficking in narcotic drugs is also a contributor to the generation of black money," he said.

The Revenue Department will set a time bound action plan for different government agencies in sync with the recommendations of International Narcotics Control Board.