Development in Naxal belt: Funds underutilized across states!

Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

Development funds earmarked for growth in Naxal belt are not being fully utilized by state governments entrusted with the responsibility.

The UPA’s flagship programme—the Integrated Action Plan (IAP)—which has been designed to tackle Left Wing Extremism (LWE) through development projects has reported a 72.70 per cent usage until June 2013. However, some states have reported even less than 65 per cent usage of the central fund.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar earlier this month urged the centre to generously fund states to combat Naxalism. However, the performance in regard to deployment of funds under the IAP scheme is among the poorest. Bihar has utilized the minimum 60.90 per cent of the centre’s fund under the IAP scheme. Andhra Pradesh is second on the list with 61.78 per cent fund utilization. The utilization by West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh government is 62.22 per cent and 64.68 per cent respectively.

The performance in other states has been relatively better. Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha have each spent more than 75 per cent of the centre’s fund. While MP has utilized 75 per cent of the fund, Jharkhand has reported 75.47 per cent utilization. Chhattisgarh and Odisha have spent 75.47 per cent and 75.91 per cent of the allotted to them under the IAP scheme respectively. As per the analysis, Maharashtra is on the top with 83.52 per cent utilization of the centre’s fund for Naxal-affected districts.

IAP, the brainchild of Planning Commission and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) covers 82 Naxal-affected Districts and 114839 villages spread across nine states. The central government has so far released Rs. 6090 crore under the IAP scheme.

The nature of major works taken up by the Districts under the IAP include construction of school buildings, drinking water facilities, rural roads, PDS shops, skill development, minor irrigation works, electric lighting, health centres, construction of toilets, special coaching classes for students, development of play grounds et al.

The scheme is monitored and implemented by a Committee headed by the District Collector and consists of the Superintendent of Police of the district and the District Forest Officer.

Among the various reasons for tardy execution of the development project included the relatively short duration postings of district authorities in the Naxal belt.

A Zee Research Group (ZRG) study for last four years of 16 Naxal-affected districts revealed that on an average a District collector/District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner was transferred regularly with the average stint being of just one year.

Transfer of district administrators has been worse in Bihar and Odisha. In both states, district administrators got transferred just after 10 month stint.

However, in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh the district administrators got transferred having served for more than a year. Andhra Pradesh has recorded a stable stint for district with Naxal district officials staying put for two years at a stretch. The study is based on transfer of administrators (District collector/District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner) at district level in 16 selected Naxal-affected districts. The study doesn’t include serving officers.

Apart from IAP, the other important central government schemes for LWE states are Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme, Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS) and Central Scheme for assistance to family of victims of Terrorist and Communal and Naxal violence.