Take political activity near forests: Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh asked the states not to leave a political vacuum in villages situated in dense forest areas to prevent Maoists from taking advantage.

Ranchi: Union Rural Development Minister
Jairam Ramesh on Saturday asked the states not to leave a political
vacuum in villages situated in dense forest areas to prevent
Maoists from taking advantage of the vacuum.
"The strategy to deal with the Maoists should be a
three-pronged action---development, taking political activity
to the villages near forests and police/para-military
(operations)," Ramesh, who yesterday visited Chhotanagra
village in the Maoist-affected West Singhbhum district, said
at a press conference here.

Asking all the political parties to take their party
activities to the remotest areas to prevent the Maoists from
exploiting the vacuum, Ramesh cited how West Bengal Chief
Minister Mamata Banerjee went to Jungle Mahal through a
political rally.

"Mamata Banerjee showed courage in organising a
political rally in Jungle Mahal, which has changed the
environment there," he claimed, adding roads, bridges, health
care and jobs under MG-NREGA would neutralise extremism.
"We can win tribal minds through development initiatives
... after 11 years our CRPF personnel drove out the Maoists
from Saranda forest (in Jharkhand)... and the state officials
should step in with development works so that the Maoists
would not be able to return," he added.

Under the Saranda Action Plan, Rs 277 crore would be
spent in the villages in and around Saranda forest to give
roads and other amenities to the people there.

Stating that he would not hesitate to say that for the
"past 50 years successive governments could not discharge
their constitutional responsibilities in tribal areas," he
said people went to forest areas and took mineral wealth,
ignoring the impact it would leave on the tribals.

He lamented over rehabilitation and resettlement work
still remaining incomplete in some parts of the country.

Hinting at panchayat elections taking place in Jharkhand
only last year after 32 years, Ramesh said had the Panchayat
Raj Act (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) been implemented 15
years ago, then there would not have been any problems from
all these `Ji`s---like Samarjee and Kishanji.

Expressing concern over Maoist presence in South
Chhatisgarh and Western parts of Jharkhand, Ramesh reiterated
that development was one of the most crucial strategies in
rooting out the left-wing extremism.

Assuring the state government of Central help, he expected
that the Arjun Munda cabinet would soon approve the 25 percent
state’s share in speeding up appointments of panchayat
officers, junior engineers in 14 naxal-affected districts in
Jharkhand.

Ramesh said he would tour all the Maoist-affected
districts and ensure development there.

PTI