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Meghalaya emerges as drugs transit route
Raju Das
 SHILLONG, Aug 17 – Meghalaya has become the main transit route for smuggling of Phensedyl and other Codeine-based cough syrups to Bangladesh, recent seizures suggest.

 In this year alone, Codeine-based cough syrups worth over Rs 59 lakh was seized in Meghalaya. A total of 1.12 lakh bottles were confiscated in three seizures. Officials say, many of these cough syrups were meant to be smuggled into Bangladesh via Meghalaya and Agartala.

Phensedyl, Corex and other Codeine-based cough syrups are legally available in India. These are prescription drugs. A bottle of Phensedyl cost Rs 42.25 and Corex Rs 68.

But in “dry” Bangladesh these Codeine-based cough syrups are in high demand and are sold anything between Taka 200-300. The price shoots up substantially during festivals.

In the region too there are a substantial number of cough syrup abusers. In “dry” States such as Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura the number of cough syrup abusers is growing.

In India, Phensedyl is manufactured by Indian Pharmaceutical giant Nicholos Piramal. However, there is growing debate whether the control mechanism has failed and the cough syrups are being smuggled rampantly.

Yesterday, the Customs here seized a truckload of cough syrups from Lumshonong, Jaintia Hills. The truck was loaded in Bihar and was on its way to Agartala enroute to Bangladesh.

Hidden under 30 rice sacks were 47,400 bottles of Corex and 3,600 Phensedyl bottles – a total of 51,000 bottles of cough syrup. The total price of the cough syrups was Rs 33.75 lakh. The driver and handyman of the truck were detained.

On July 31, another truck with 27,100 bottles was seized in Umling, Ri-Bhoi. The price of that illegal consignment was over Rs11.45 lakh. The bottles were hidden together with Marijuana.

Back in February this year, 35,000 bottles of Phensedyl were recovered and the cost of the illegal consignment was pegged at Rs 14.78 lakh.

Director General of Narcotic Control Bureau, OPS Malik during his visit to the region said that Meghalaya has become the favoured transit route for smugglers, both for smuggling in drugs such as cocaine, heroin from Myanmar into India via Manipur and like in these cases, smuggling out cough syrups to Bangladesh.

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