The growing incidents of substance abuse among school and college children, even girls, in Kochi has prompted Ernakulam Rural Police to set up Anti-Narcotic Club in all 1, 369 panchayat wards in the district. The initiative aims to tackle the issue at the grassroots level.

"Clubs will be set up in all panchayats, and we have already started talks with 84 of them. Each club will have four members and the officer in charge of local police station will be in charge. One of the members will be ward member. Respective sub-inspectors will be in chare and will monitor the functioning of the club. They will ensure action on any complaint of substance abuse as well as other anti-social activities," Ernakulam Rural Superintendant of Police A v George said. 

The police expect to initiate the formation of clubs within a week. "We aim to start the project in the first week of February and complete it by March-end. Other than sub-inspector and ward member, two others will be those suggested by the panchayat," he said. 

Despite a decline in crime cases across the state, the number of cases registered under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act related to possession and sale of drugs have increased over the years. The police and Excise Departments are conducting special drives to detect such cases. As many as 80 cases were registered during a drive conducted from September 2016 to October 31, and this shows the intensity of the issue. 

Other than anti-narcotic clubs, the police are also planning to deploy sniffer dogs at major railway stations which are the transit hubs of drugs, tobacco and other banned products. Police are also taking other measures like campaigns, short films etc. to create awareness among people against drug abuse menace. Classes will be imparted in all the schools and colleges across the district.