Jairam has his way over Naxal area scheme
By ENS - NEW DELHI
12th August 2012 08:53 AM
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh’s prolonged pressure against the UPA’s flagship programme to tackle Red terror through development has worked. The ‘Integrated Action Plan’ (IAP), the brainchild of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Planning Commission to address development issues of Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected districts across nine states, was launched in 2010 and will soon be submerged in the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF). Ramesh wants the IAP to be replaced by his brainchild, the Saranda Action Plan.
“IAP has been more successful among other community development schemes launched by the Centre and it is very disappointing to see it being terminated within a very short span of time under Ramesh’s pressure,” one source said.
Another source close to Ramesh defended his letters to the Prime Minister, saying the minister is a ‘thinking individual’ and he must have got feedback about lacunae in the IAP. Despite several attempt, Ramesh did not respond to calls from The Sunday Standard. An official in the Planning Commission said on condition of anonymity that it is very difficult to say what shape the IAP will take, as discussions are still on. “It will take another three-four months to restructure the IAP. Hopefully, a very informed decision will be taken. A number of requests had been received from chief ministers, Members of Parliament and state governments for inclusion of more districts under the IAP.” Scrapping of the entire proposal may boost the morale of Naxal insurgents, an official said. Special Secretary to the Odisha government RV Singh said the decision will only increase the insecurity among people. “It is surprising and very unfortunate. IAP is a well implemented and monitored programme. If it is left to us we will continue with it for the benefit of poor people,” he said.
Additional Inspector General of Jharkhand Police Richard Lakra said the IAP has been very successful in the state, and inclusion of district-level officials has really helped grassroots development. He refused to comment on the Centre’s plans.
Sources said Ramesh is believed to be pushing his Saranda Action Plan as a flagship programme for Naxal-affected districts. ‘Saranda Action Plan’ was named for a district in Jharkhand that was adopted by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2011 for the development of 56 villages at a cost of Rs 248 crore, that will also help mining in the area.
Ramesh had told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the ‘one size fits all’ approach of the IAP fails to take into consideration the variation in the intensity of the problem. He also said that the three-member committee chaired by the district collector for selecting and implementing projects was not very effective.
But, unlike the IAP, where the district administration decides on utilisation of funds and projects in backward areas, the Saranda Action Plan is monitored by bureaucrats in the national capital. It will not have representatives of districts or gram sabhas, something which leaves it open to turning into another bureaucratic playground.
IAP currently covers 82 Naxal-affected districts across nine states to implement concrete proposals for public infrastructure and services, including schools, Aanganwadi centres and roads. “The IAP has helped districts to initiate development work in many tribal villages affected by Naxals. In Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, roads connected almost 120 hamlets and solved the issues of electricity through IAP funds. More work needs to be done, and scrapping the project will only disappoint poor people of the area,” said a Chhattisgarh official.
Under the IAP, 87,885 projects have been sanctioned so far, of which 60,805 projects have already been completed by the states. The Centre so far has released Rs 3,840 crore to nine states to meet the expenditure.
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