New Delhi: The Maoist insurgency is a greater challenge than terrorism, home minister P. Chidambaram said in Delhi on Tuesday.
“The most violent movement in the country is not terrorism but the Left-wing extremism,” Chidambaram said, a week after a terrorist attack at the Delhi high court killed 13 people.
In the first eight months of this year, the number of civilians killed by Maoists is 10 times more than those killed in terror attacks, he said at a national workshop on rural development programmes in areas most affected by the rebel movement.
Chidambaram added that the burden of governance in such areas cannot be shifted from the states to the Centre. “Not many chief ministers and ministers have visited the affected areas,” he said. “They should spend a night there.”
The rural development ministry has sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s help for better execution of welfare schemes in the 60 districts affected by the Left-wing extremism, saying this can help counter the threat.
Implementing rural development schemes, which have a significant budget allocation, in line with the specific needs of these districts can address the governance deficit in these areas, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said at the workshop.
The rural development ministry is the nodal agency for development schemes, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Indira Awas Yojana, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and the National Rural Livelihood Mission. It has been allocated Rs 87,800 crore in the year to 31 March to implement these programmes. This includes the allocation to the department of drinking water and sanitation.
Ramesh, who termed PMGSY as the “single biggest transformatory” scheme, said changes would be made to the nine flagship programmes of the ministries of rural development and drinking water and sanitation to suit the “peculiar” circumstances of Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts.
“The government must ensure that come what may PMGSY targets in IAP districts should be completed within the next three years and for this we need the Prime Minister’s intervention,” Ramesh said. This includes modifying population limits to cover less-populated areas.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Singh had proposed a special socio-economic package for these areas. The Planning Commission is working on its details.
There must be “zero tolerance for corruption” in the implementation of schemes intended for these regions, Singh said at the workshop.
“Development, to be meaningful, has to be in tune with people’s felt needs,” Singh said. “Lack of security is a big constraint and without that development programmes cannot be implemented as intended. A modicum of security must go hand in hand with development.”
Collectors from districts affected by Maoist violence shared their experiences during the day-long workshop. It was also attended by deputy Planning Commission chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, minister for road transport and highways C.P. Joshi and tribal affairs and panchayati raj minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo.