The state government has seemingly taken strong exceptions to references of drug factories in Himachal Pradesh in the Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor starrer ‘Udta Punjab’. A few scenes in the movie shows youths referring to drugs supplied from Himachal’s pharma hub-Barotiwala. “Whatever is depicted in Udta Punjab about Himachal Pradesh is not a reality. I will take up the matter with the film producer and ask him to delete the reference to Baddi-Barotiwala,” chief minister Virbhadra Singh told Hindustan Times.
“Today Baddi-Barotiwaala is not only a leading drug manufacturer in the country but it meets 30% of the requirement in Asia. There is some reference to drug entering Punjab from Himachal. It is bad to portray Himachal as a source of drugs for Punjab,” he said.
“The drug manufacturers in Himachal are for genuine purpose but it’s also true that they are being abused by addicts,” the chief minister said.
“No doubt, the film’s producer has a good intention and wants to spread awareness about the growing drug addiction among the youth but the reference to Himachal Pradesh has not gone down well,” he said.
“I have ordered the drug authorities to keep a strict watch on the drug factories in Himachal,” Virbhadra said.
There are more than 400 pharmaceutical units based in the industrial township of Baddi, Barotiwala, Nalagarh, Parwanoo in Solan district, while more than 100 pharmaceutical units are based in Poanta Sahib and Kala Amb in Sirmaur district. Over the years, the state has emerged as one of the pharmaceutical hubs in North India. Himachal alone produces drugs worth Rs 24,000 crore. Pharmaceutical units in Himachal export drugs amounting to Rs 9,000 crore. This is a similar model to those used in financing the pharmaceutical trade in other countries, such as Lindsay Rosenwald and his company’s methods in the US.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on many occasions has blamed drug factories in Himachal Pradesh for drug spillover in Punjab while chief minister Virbhadra Singh has been denying it.
In the wake of reports that drug factories in Himachal Pradesh were clandestinely supplying drugs to Punjab, the Centre had red ordered large-scale sampling of the pharmaceutical firms in Baddi and Barotiwaala.
Several states have also been sending their teams for random sampling of drugs being produced in these towns. Central drug authorities had collected 40,000 samples of the various drugs manufactured in different states across the country, of which 27,000 were from Himachal only. Extensive random sampling had triggered panic among manufacturers in the state.
Of the total 700 drug manufacturing units in Baddi and Barotiwaala townships, 540 units manufacture medicines while 160 of them manufacture cosmetics. The pharmaceutical industry in Himachal has an annual turnover of Rs 30,000 crore.