December 18, 2007
NEW DELHI: The Centre's plan to fight Naxalism through development will be put to test during the chief ministers' conference on internal security on December 20 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will seek the "report cards" of 33 districts which have been identified as worst affected by Naxal terror.
Chief secretaries of eight states, where these 33 districts are located, will have to tell the PM about the initiatives taken to ensure overall development in the past three months, sources in the home ministry said. The decision to seek "report cards" was taken by the home ministry after an inter-ministerial group (IMG), chaired by additional secretary Vinay Kumar, met to review the overall situation in these districts.
Incidentally, more than 20% of police stations in these 33 districts have reported Naxal violence with relatively higher number of casualties. "The states concerned will be asked to come with the progress report of these districts when their chief ministers attend the conference," said a senior official.
Of the 33 Naxal-hit districts, Jharkhand accounts for 10 and Chhattisgarh for seven. These two states, in fact, accounted for more than two-thirds of the 571 deaths in the country due to Naxal violence till October 31.
The Centre has identified one district each in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh in the new category for overall development on priority basis. While six remaining districts belong to Bihar, five are in Orissa and two in Maharashtra.
Though the IMG meeting also took note of ongoing development works in other Naxal-affected districts across 13 states, the focus was on the new block of 33. Currently, 165 districts in the country have Naxal presence in varying degrees.
Besides senior home ministry officials, joint secretary-rank officers from the ministries of panchayati raj, rural development, tribal affairs, elementary education, health, forest, information and broadcasting, environment, women and child development and agriculture also attended the IMG meeting.
Source: The Times of India, December 18, 2007