An internal investigation by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur has found that hundreds of its students use drugs, and the situation is “alarming” as “some 30 to 40” of them have become addicts. Security guards, students and nearby locals are likely to be involved in peddling drugs on campus, officials said on Saturday.

The premier engineering institute started counselling a few students this week, The Telegraph reported. “Many of the students had turned 24x7 addicts and stopped attending classes,” a police officer said in Lucknow.

IIT-Kanpur has sought the help of the district administration. “We have raised the issue with District Magistrate Surendra Singh, who has acknowledged the fact and assured an immediate and appropriate response,” Acting Director Manindra Agarwal told The Times of India.

The investigation helped identify some students who are “severely affected”, but “many more have yet to be identified”, Agarwal said. Counselling sessions for all students will begin next semester in January and affected students will “be counselled for holistic de-addiction”, he said.

“To improve the scenario, we need to counsel our students and tell them about the harmful effects of drugs,” Agarwal said. “But there is also an urgent need to identify and crack down on drug peddlers for whom students are a soft target. The situation has reached such a pass that there is no other way left but to take direct action against drug suppliers and also students who won’t see reason.”

Arrests of five drug peddlers from nearby areas a few months ago had helped curb the supply of drugs for some time, but new drug suppliers have come up now, he said.

Authorities have barricaded the road from the Nankari neighbourhood to the institute, as some drug peddlers are believed to be living there.