Shillong, June 5 : With an aim to address the issue of substance abuse in Meghalaya, the State Social Welfare Department, in collaboration with the Home (Police) Department and the Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills District, will be holding a Consultative Meeting of Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and Members of District Councils (MDCs) with the Dorbar Shnongs of the Greater Shillong Area on 7th June, 2024 at 2pm at State Convention Centre, Shillong. This initiative is part of the Drug Reduction Elimination & Action Mission (DREAM) launched in June 2023– a targeted mission to build a “Drug Free Meghalaya’‘ that deploy a multifaceted coordinated strategy that leverages the combined efforts of the state and local communities to eliminate the incidence of substance use in the state.

In view of the above the Hon’ble Social Welfare Minister, Paul Lyngdoh has appealed to the Dorbar Shnongs of Greater Shillong to attend this crucial meeting on June 7th, 2024. Their participation and support will be crucial in the State’s collective effort to combat substance abuse and build a safer, Drug Free Meghalaya. 

The  consultative meeting seeks to identify gaps in the current system which can be achieved by partnering with communities, such as the VDPs. It is to be noted that as per the Meghalaya Village Defence Organisation Rules 2008, VDPs assist the police in maintaining law and order, conducting patrols, and preventing crimes such as theft and burglary. Drugs also come under the ambit of their duties and functions, and in which they will be adequately trained as part of this mission. This decision was taken after a meeting on 28th May, 2024 led by Hon’ble Social Welfare Minister, Bah Paul Lyngdoh with stakeholders from the Home (Police), Department of Social Welfare, different NGOs, Meghalaya AIDS Control Society, and members of the DREAM mission. In previous meetings, it was observed that the state’s success rate in combating the drug menace has risen to 20 percent, largely attributed to the active backing provided by traditional institutions and NGOs.

DREAM has identified the need to build a robust and well-trained network of Village Defence Parties (VDPs) equipped with necessary resources and tools to combat drug abuse and trafficking. Composed of trusted local volunteers from within the communities, the plan is to revamp and reorganize them across the state, with a particular focus on identified drugs and substance use hotspots, including Shillong. Empowering VDPs with these capabilities is aimed at creating a vigilant and proactive community defense mechanism that not only maintains law and order but will also actively contribute to a Drug Free Meghalaya.This initiative will involve comprehensive training on drug detection and prevention, ensuring regular coordination with police & existing health service nodal persons, and fostering strong community engagement through Social & Behavioral Change Campaigns  and awareness programs. 

The consultative meeting on the 7th of June, will also see the attendance of State Social Welfare Minister Bah Paul Lyngdoh, Sampath Kumar, IAS, Principal Secretary & Development Commissioner,  Social Welfare Department, Government of Meghalaya, Israel W. Ingty, IAS, Secretary, Social Welfare Department, Government of Meghalaya, Vivek Syiem, IPS Spl. Superintendent of Police (CID)-Shillong, Meghalaya, Madanryting Village Defence Parties, along with other MLAs & MDCs and the Dorbar Shnongs of the Greater Shillong area.