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ID: 665

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Drug Policy Reform and Advocacy

Presenting author: Sourabh Chakraborty

Presenting author biography:

Sourabh Chakraborty has a PhD in Population Studies and working for drug policy reforms in India for the past three years. He was associated with AHRDP program in Jodhpur, India and coordinated the program in 2014 and also wrote the evaluation report.

Cost of India’s “war on drugs”: Is this worth the effort?

Sourabh Chakraborty, Vikas Arora

India has a long history of cannabis and opium use and permitted sale and taxation on cannabis before the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) was introduced in 1985. But can a developing country like India afford such a high cost involved in fight against drugs?

To understand the amount spent by Indian Government on drug control we examined various government data including Prison Statistics, Crime in India Statistics and Expenditure on Narcotics Control Bureau, Demands for Grants of Ministry of Home Affairs- Vol I.

Ministry of Home Affairs has budgeted a whopping 1101 million Indian Rupees for Narcotic Control Bureau for the financial year 2016-17 (budget estimate) to pay salary of staff, office rentals and incurring other miscellaneous expenditure including secret service expenses. We have also made an attempt to estimate annual public expenditure per prisoner and under-trials booked under NDPS Act. Till the end of 2014, there are 8923 prisoners convicted under NDPS Act and lodged in various prisons across the country. In addition, there are 16039 under trials, booked under NDPS Act, languishing in jails. The Government spends 51 Indian Rupees, on an average, for a prisoner every day. This amounts to a massive 450 million India Rupees per annum expenditure on prisoners and under-trials jailed under NDPS Act.

When many countries in Europe and particularly South America are decriminalizing possession for personal consumption without any adverse impact on law and order situation, can Asian countries including India continue “war on drugs”, which comes at a huge price, often at the cost of curtailing budget for other social causes. There is a pressing need for further research to understand cost of drug control under criminalization vis a vis when drug use is decriminalized.