New Delhi: Admitting that the government`s developmental plans were not delivering desired results in impoverished tribal regions of east and central India, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said financial aid of nearly Rs.14,000 crore would be approved soon for Maoist-affected districts.
The home minister also hinted at a change in the manner in which the central government released money for development programmes to the states affected by Maoist insurgency.
The Integrated Action Plan for Infrastructural Development worth Rs.13,742 crore for Maoist-hit districts would be finalised soon, Chidambaram said, speaking at a conference on forestry administration in left-wing extremism affected areas.
The plan spread over a period of three years is aimed at improving facilities like drinking water, electricity, roads, sanitation and health services.
"Initially, 35 Left wing extremist-affected districts will be given Rs 45-50 crore for setting up primary health care, educational and sanitation facilities. Later, it can be extended to other districts as well," he said.
"This," he said, "will be in the addition to the existing security related schemes."
Chidambaram, much criticised for his iron fist policy in dealing with Maoism, said abject poverty was a breeding ground for extremism, and admitted that whatever the government was doing "is not making significant change".
"This is not to criticise the Planning Commission plans. But the fact is that the interventions that we have been contemplating and executing are most likely not improving the human development index of the populations living in these naxal-affected areas. Nothing that we are doing is making any significant change in their lives."
The home minister said development was the key to the growth of tribal people and forest dwellers and "assuming that these largely tribal populations do not need these facilities is completely wrong.
"However much we may romanticise life in forests, let us remember they will remain poor as long as they live the way they have lived.
"Unless we bring to them modern education, sanitation, better quality drinking water, more nutritious food they will remain what they are, with the highest infant mortality rate, highest mortality rate."
He said the proposed financial aid would be made available to district administrations directly with complete freedom to implement locally-planned schemes for better results.
"If the district administration decides it would be good to give scholarships to 100 students from the most backward areas, it can go ahead and spend this money. It does not need to worry whether the grant would fit into any existing scheme. The district administration would be given complete flexibility and independence to spend the money in the most fruitful way," the home minister said.
At present, money is released for specific central programmes like the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) or the any other government sponsored schemes.
The Planning Commission has an Integrated Action Plan through which it makes special grants under 13 flagship programmes of the government, relating to drinking water supply, housing, sanitation, rural employment guarantee scheme and several others.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who was also present, said the details of the new model of funding would be decided in the next one week and would be initiated in the current calendar year.