Development works needed in Maoist hit areas: Ramesh

Though 78 districts in the country have been identified as Maoist-affected, about 20 of them, including Odisha`s Malkangiri, Koraput and Kandhamal, are worst hit, Jairam Ramesh said.

Bhubaneswar: Maintaining that mineral rich areas are worst hit by Maoist menace, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday sought a change in mindset about mining and said political and development activities are as important as security measures to tackle Maoist problem.

"Wherever there are mines we face Maoist activities.... We need to change our mindset about mining operations and work for tribal-oriented development," the Panchayat and Rural Development Minister told reporters here.

Stating that security measures alone would not help curb left wing extremism (LWE), Ramesh said the only way to meet the challenge was to start political and development activities in Maoist-affected areas besides undertaking security operations.

Citing the example of Junglemahal in West Bengal, he said steps should be taken for political mobilisation in Maoist-hit areas, particularly among tribal population, and strengthening basic infrastructure in backward regions.

Referring to the special area development plan (SADP) taken up by the Union Rural Development Ministry, Ramesh said Malkangiri-Sukma area of Odisha and Chhattisgarh has been identified for implementation of the programme at a cost of about Rs 300 crore in next two years.

Malkangiri-Sukuma belt is the third such area where the plan is going to be implemented after it was taken up recently in Saranda and Latehar areas of Jharkhand.

Basic infrastructure facilities like roads and bridges would be constructed in the Naxal-hit belt to spur development and involve the locals in the process, he said adding he had already spoken to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister in this regard and would soon talk to Odisha Chief Minister too.

Though 78 districts in the country have been identified as Maoist-affected, about 20 of them, including Odisha`s Malkangiri, Koraput and Kandhamal, are worst hit, Ramesh said.

Referring to central funds for Integrated Action Plan (IAP) in naxal-hit areas, the Union Minister said 18 of Odisha`s 30 districts get IAP funds and during last two years each of these districts received Rs 55 crore each.

This year each Maoist-hit district would get Rs 30 crore each but the money would be utilised in a different manner, he said adding apart from district collector, SP and DFO, elected representatives from gram panchayats, blocks and districts would be involved in the process.

PTI

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