Chandigarh: As part of its fight against the menace of drug abuse, Government of Punjab here today held a meeting with the Vice Chancellors of all Govt. and Private Universities of Punjab and their representatives to take their views, suggestions and inputs on curbing the menace of drug abuse. The move was aimed at prevention of drug abuse, especially among youth and university students through consistent and innovative methods of awareness and education.
The meeting was chaired by S.K. Sandhu, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Punjab. Anjali Bhawra, Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Punjab, Rahul Tiwari, Secretary Home, Harpreet Singh Sidhu, Additional Director General Police (ADGP) Special Task Force, B. Chander Sekhar, IGP, STF, R.K. Jaiswal, IGP, STF and other senior officers of the State Government were present.
Sandhu said that Punjab Government is committed to wipe out the menace of drug abuse and multi-pronged strategy has been adopted to accomplish this task. Already a Special Task Force (Anti-drug) has been constituted, which is stringently enforcing the law and nabbing the violators, and on the other hand the Govt. is providing effective de-addiction and rehabilitation services for people affected to drug abuse. He added that Govt. is proactively working towards forming strategies to prevent the youngsters falling in trap of drug abuse. He asserted that this university programme has been evolved since it was felt that there was a need to educate, aware and involve the youth effectively in the prevention of drug-abuse campaign.
Sandhu stressed that drug abuse is mainly a social issue and therefore required joint efforts by different sections of the society. He asked the universities to identify resource persons with whom the Government can interact for implementing this programme. He also urged the universities to self-own this programme as they were key stakeholders. He further urged the Chancellors/Vice Chancellors to themselves review the programme at their level too.
On the occasion Anjali Bhawra elaborated the numerous efforts made by the Health & Family Welfare Department for prevention and treatment of drug abusers. She informed that De-addiction and Rehabilitation facilities are available in all the districts of the state under the supervision of trained staff including Psychiatrists. Similarly she also informed about various awareness activities initiated by the department to sensitize and educate the people about the ill-effects of drug abuse. Bhawra further explained about the new OOAT strategy adopted recently by the Govt. in its hospitals. She added that a special focus is being laid upon sensitisation and education of adolescents, which is considered to be vulnerable group for such abuse.
Harpreet Singh Sidhu, Additional Director General Police (ADGP) Special Task Force shared with the VC’s of Universities the details of Buddy Programme specially devised by experts of STF in consultation with eminent Psychiatrists. He said as per studies children in adolescent age group as well as in the age group of 18-25 years reel under great peer pressure. This age group are vulnerable groups. He emphasised that the Buddy programme has been specially designed with focus on students, as part of which a group of 5 students of same section/batch is formed, who monitor, motivate and hold moral responsibility for each other and encourage mutual safety and empowerment. A Buddy discusses harmful effects of drugs from time to time and also identifies signs of drug use among peer group and encourages not indulging in drug abuse.
Sidhu stressed about KABP (knowledge, Attitude, Belief and Practice) strategy to curb the ill menace of drugs. He exhorted the need to take drive against drug abuse to each gali and mohalla of the state. He also discussed the strategies to be adopted by professors and teachers, so as to motivate their students to remain away from drugs. He advocated that consistent and focused awareness campaigns were more useful in comparison to short duration campaigns.
On the occasion Vice Chancellors and their representative from Panjab University, Chandigarh, Punjabi University, Patiala, GNDU Amritsar, Guru Kanshi University Talwandi Sabo, Chandigarh University, Adesh University, Bathinda, Rayat Bahra University, Mohali, GNA University Phagwara, Akal University, Shree Guru Ram Das University of Health Sciences Amritsar, Lovely Professional University and PBGCTA were present.
The Vice Chancellors discussed the various measures being taken at the level of their respective universities for awareness and to combat the menace of drug abuse in their campuses. They also gave few suggestions to Govt. like removal of Khokhas, small time vendors from nearby and periphery of their campuses since such vendors are often found to be a great source of supplying intoxicants. Other suggestions given by them included regular interactions between university students and SSP’s of districts, special focus on regular checking of hostels by university staff, more student engagement programmes, use of university radio channels etc.