Citing drug menace as an internal security threat, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has pitched for creation of additional 3,000 posts at the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to expand its nationwide footprint. The MHA has taken up the proposal with the finance ministry to provide logistical and manpower support in setting up and strengthening bureaus in Andhra, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, among other states, said people aware of the matter.
The MHA is responsible for administrative control of the NCB and for coordination among various central and state agencies. In 2016, it set up a Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD). This system was restructured in 2019 into four tiers up to the district level for further coordination and cooperation among various stakeholders. Officials familiar with the proposal to expand the NCB’s footprint said that at present the agency functions with a strength of 1,100 personnel across India. When contacted, the home ministry spokesperson did not comment on the developments.
“Due to paucity of workforce, we have to rely on other agencies and state police, due to which quality of investigations suffers at times, as not all forces are trained to handle drugs investigations,” said a senior official.
The NCB is presently in the eye of the storm over the arrest of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) Act. As first reported by ET on October 20, the MHA along with other central ministries has mooted a proposal on strengthening the NDPS Act and empowering law enforcement agencies under the Act.
Besides the NCB, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, customs and excise, BSF, Sashastra Seema Bal and Indian Coast Guard have been granted powers for making interdiction of narcotic drugs in remotest and far-flung areas of the country and along the border. Further, the MHA wants to wrest the control over the NDPS Act from the Department of Revenue on the grounds that it is responsible for coordination and liaison against illicit traffic under the various international conventions and protocols, state governments and other authorities under the Act.