Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government has directed the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to suspend all its operations in the Naxalite-affected Bastar region.
The ICRC had started its operations two-and-a-half years ago to support healthcare facilities and ensure that people have access to clean water and proper sanitation in two districts - Bijapur and Sukma of south Bastar.
"We had asked the ICRC to stop all its operations in the Bastar region in an order issued last week as it was working without any MoU with the government," Director Health Services, Kamalpreet Singh told PTI over phone.
"We had asked them several times to submit their documents of clearance to work in the region, but they failed to do so. Being an international organisation, needs clearance from the Centre for carrying out their services in India," Singh added.
The ICRC was providing healthcare facilities in the remote Naxal-affected village Kutru in Bairamgarh tehsil in Bijapur since 2010.
Besides, the organisation was working on to ensure that people have access to clean water and proper sanitation in Chintalnar region of Sukma district.
"As per the instructions we had asked Red Cross to put hold on its operations in Kutru Primary health centre. We have already deputed a doctor there," Bijapur district collector Mohammad Qaiser Abdul Haque told PTI.
On being asked about any further action against other local NGOs providing medical aid in the conflict zone, the collector said, "The state government has made enough arrangements for ensuring medical aid to the tribals in the region and very few NGOs are working here."
In the Sprawling Bastar region, comprising seven districts and spread across around 40,000 sq km, several NGOs and international organisations are working on several social and health issues.
According to sources in the health department, earlier security forces have complained several times that ICRC another NGOs were providing medical aid to naxals in Bastar region.
"Hence, they had requested to suspend the work of International NGOs operating there," sources added.