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Rediff.com  » Business » Plan panel divided on special package for Naxal-hit areas

Plan panel divided on special package for Naxal-hit areas

Last updated on: July 09, 2010 09:19 IST

Joint forcesThere is a long way to go for the proposed Rs 13,743-crore (Rs 137.43 billion) package for the 35 Naxalite-infested areas, with the Planning Commission still to decide on the extent of coverage and on issues related to implementation of the Integrated Action Plan.

Many in the Planning Commission are not confident that making more capital available for the development of tribal areas affected by the Naxalite menace will effectively narrow down the trust deficit in these areas.

Moreover, there is a feeling among a few panel members that the IAP should not only cater to the 35 worst-hit districts, but should also be directed to those districts where the Naxalites are making inroads.

"Prevention is better than cure and there are many districts which are gradually coming under the Naxalite influence and we need to give more attention to these areas.

"Pushing in money without an extensive plan will not help the cause and there is a fervent need for more discussion," said a planning commission official closely associated with the discussions.

Under the proposed plan, about Rs 5,768 crore (Rs 57.68 billion) will be spent on road connectivity, Rs 1,602 crore (Rs 16.02 billion) on education, Rs 850 crore (Rs 8.5 billion) on health services, Rs 835 crore (Rs 8.53 billion) on rural electrification and Rs 888 crore on irrigation to bring the least developed areas on a par with national development.

Although there is a consensus on the need for proper implementation of the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, 1996 and related Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006, many feel that the present draft has not taken into consideration the opinion of the Gram Sabhas, which will be responsible for implementation and monitoring of the funds allocated under the special package.

"There is a concern about the effectiveness of the programs in the naxalite-affected areas, as most states have not been able to spend the existing funds," said another planning commission official on the condition of anonymity.

"At the gram sabha level, there is a lack of capacity building and for that there is need for more support personnel at the ground level. Pumping in more money will not assist matters and will further encourage corruption.

"The figure is also not final," he said.

According to the views presented in a meeting held on Monday, plan panel deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has asked for a rework of the existing draft to incorporate views of all the plan panel members.

The fresh draft will be discussed on July 13.

Moreover, planning commission will also hold discussion with various stakeholders and experts who are well versed with the ground situation on July 12 to get more comprehensive inputs regarding the nature of the IAP.

Devika Banerji in New Delhi
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