As it comes to grips with the Maoist menace in Jharkhand, the Raghubar Das government is aiming to address the lack of development in the rural parts of the state — where years of left-wing extremism has hampered the building of roads and bridges — by involving security personnel in infrastructure creation.
As many as 17 districts of the state are eligible to receive funds under Additional Central Assistance, but at least four districts have fallen well short of the target of realising the Rs 30 crore given to each of them for the 2013/14 fiscal, government documents show. The shortcoming is, for the most part, attributed to the presence of Red ultras.
“The progress under this (ACA) yojana was unsatisfactory during 2013/14,” said letters issued to the deputy commissioners of the four districts on August 1, 2014, by a senior official in the erstwhile Hemant Soren government with the directive that there should not be a “repeat” of the performance.
The new BJP government led by Raghubar Das has now made it clear during the one month it has completed in office that development alone can eliminate Naxalism and that security personnel will be involved in carrying out such work in the Naxal-affected areas.
“It’s a good thing to involve security forces in development as Naxalites don’t want construction of roads and bridges as it will enable the administration reach remote areas,” said Radhakrishna Kishore, the BJP MLA from Chhatarpur constituency, which lies in the Maoist-affected Palamau district.
“The Naxalites also demand a cut (extortion money) on such schemes… Affecting the quality of work,” he added even as he called for hardcore Naxalites to be dealt with sternly.
Another BJP MLA, Bimla Pradhan, said, “In my Simdega constituency, there is no industry or mineral resources, so people depend upon agriculture.”
“(But) lack of permanent irrigation facilities for taking up agriculture means unemployed youths are prone to getting misguided. Hence, the ACA funds should be increased and more developmental work should be done.”
However, the opposition JMM MLA Kunal Sarangi claimed that the state government was “over-simplifying the complex problem of Naxalism” by its decision to involve security personnel in developmental work.
“Sometimes a person joins extremism on personal or other grounds. So, the government should take people into confidence by fulfilling its promises, and it should separate development work from tackling Naxalism. Speed up the delivery mechanism,” Sarangi stressed.