Sunday, Dec 22, 2002
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By Pranab Dhal Samanta
According to officials, anthrallic acid is used widely in the production of mandrax and, thus, ought to be a controlled substance. While anthrallic acid was never considered a precursor chemical for mandrax production, mandrax manufacturers in India have invented a new combination which has today compelled authorities to regulate it.
The identified precursor for mandrax is a chemical by the name of N-acetylanthranilic acid. This, sources say, is not produced or used commercially in India. But along with three other substances, the Government has identified this chemical too as a controlled substance.
The other three in the list are acetic anhydride which is used for making heroin; ephidrene, used for producing amphetamines like the ecstasy drug; and pseudo-ephidrene needed to make methamphetamines, another range of stimulants.
Now, according to officials, manufacturers in India have started mixing anthrallic acid with acetic anhydride, which when combined in the right proportions gives N-acetylanthranilic acid. This, in turn, is used for making mandrax.
It is learnt that in most of the mandrax seizures this year, the precursor chemical was made by using anthrallic acid.
Based on these inputs, NCB authorities decided that it was time to include this chemical in the controlled substances list.
This year, over 11 tonnes of mandrax has been seized by various drug enforcement agencies across the country till now. According to officials, this is the largest ever seizure of mandrax made by any country in a single year.
Some of the high profile cases include the busting of a manufacturing unit near Jodhpur by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. This unit was being run by a Rajasthan Minister's son. The NCB too effected a major seizure in the Wapi Industrial Area of Mumbai few months ago. In all these cases, the easy availability of anthrallic acid stood out as a common factor, added officials.
Used commercially as a chemical intermediate for making dyes and perfumes, anthrallic acid is also part of the list of 23 chemicals identified by the United Nations Drug Control Programme as substances needed to be controlled, monitored and regulated.
It is understood that there are just about nine factories in the country, located largely in Gujarat, which manufacture anthrallic acid.
If the Government does give NCB the nod, then the manufacturer, distributor, exporter/importer and the transporter of this chemical would have to file quarterly reports with the NCB. Several other checks like obtaining licenses and clearance certificates would also apply.
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