Projects in Naxal-hit areas to get more funds

Projects in Naxal-hit areas to get more funds

New Delhi: The government is preparing the ground for a special development plan for districts with a strong Maoist presence, to support infrastructure projects that cannot be funded by existing development schemes.

A team of 35 officials from the country’s apex planning body, the Planning Commission, has been sent to various districts to ready the schemes in coordination with district collectors and senior state government officials.

“Based on their feedback, the Planning Commission will come up with a concrete plan of funding and development activities in these districts. If need be, special funding will be provided to these districts," said a top official at the Planning Commission who did not want to be identified.

The official also added the Plan panel is expected to finalize the package over the next two months and it would extend to districts hit by Maoist activity in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.

A team headed by Naveen Kumar, principal adviser, Planning Commission, is currently visiting Chhattisgarh, one of the worst Maoist-hit states, said a top official in the Chhattisgarh government. Naxalite outfits are currently active in 91 districts across 11 states in the country.

According to another official, who too did not want to be identified, the government wants to give more attention to infrastructure development in the remotest areas.

According to the initial plan, the new scheme would fund schools in remote areas, rural road connectivity—especially those which cannot be funded under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, a rural roads programme—housing for employees who work in the region and development of small townships.

S.L. Rao, a former director general of the National Council for Applied Economic Research, said the idea of sending Planning Commission officials to these areas is good, but it may not yield substantial results.

“What is required in these areas is a sense of empathy where the official meets the local people as also representatives of the Naxals. Besides, he evaluates the outcome of earlier planning activities and then reports on the basis on continued feedback that he receives from these people," added Rao.