Projects on the cards for poppy-free towns

LASHKARGAH (PAN): Development schemes worth $3 million would be executed in the districts where poppy crops were not grown last year in southern Helmand province, the governor promised on Wednesday.
Gen. Mohammad Naeem told a gathering in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, the projects would be implemented in Nad Ali, Marja, Nawa, Garmser and Greshk towns, keeping in view residents’ needs.
The schemes would be implemented in irrigation, agriculture, health and education sectors, he said, praising the local people for honouring their pledges not to cultivate opium poppies.
He said the government was ready to launch similar projects in other districts if poppy cultivation was eradicated there. Most part of the income from poppy harvest ended up in the hands of smugglers and insurgents groups, he added.
Poppies were the cause of insecurity and insurgency in Helmand, said the governor, who hinted at reconstruction projects would help provide youth with job opportunities and discourage cultivation of the illicit crop.
But residents of central districts complained although they clung to their pledge not to cultivate poppies, they continued to be deprived of development projects.
A Nawa district resident, Haji Bilal, said the illegal crop had not been grown in areas controlled by the government. The authorities should cooperate with residents in every sphere of life, he demanded.
A Greshk resident, Obaidullah, said he did not grow the crop on his fields this year and planned not to do so next year as well. But he accused the government of depriving farmers of their share in uplift programmes.

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