January 13, 2008
BANGALORE: There is good news for the people living in the remote areas of four naxal-infested districts in the State. The Union Government has cleared a special package amounting to Rs. 524.40 crore for strengthening communication links and infrastructure in these villages.
The Union Ministry of Rural Development cleared the special package to contain naxal activities and accelerate economic development in the villages of the Malnad region, two days ago. The package will cover eight taluks of the four districts, namely Chikmagalur, Shimoga, Udupi and the drought-prone Tumkur.
The State Home Department has declared these districts as naxal infested.
There has been a spurt in naxalite activities in the past two years in these districts owing to lack of basic facilities and low wages. Regular drought and failure of crops are the main reasons for the spread of naxal activities in Pavagada taluk of Tumkur district which borders Andhra Pradesh.
Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) Department Principal Secretary K. Jairaj told The Hindu that under the package "good communication links and all-weather roads will be provided to over 4,000 settlements in eight taluks, namely, Sringeri, Mudigere and Koppa (Chikmagalur district), Kundapur and Karkala (Udupi district), Tirthahalli and Hosanagara (Shimoga district) and Pavagada (Tumkur district). Chikmagalur and Shimoga districts have also been covered under the Rs. 2,689-crore Prime Minister's relief package for farmers."
Mr. Jairaj and RDPR Department Rural Basic Services Director N. Manjula held a meeting with Union Rural Development Secretary Rita Sharma and Joint Director G.K. Mahapatra on January 10 in New Delhi and discussed the significance of the package for development of remote settlements in the four districts.
The Union Ministry of Rural Development has, in principle, given clearance to the package.
Besides improving the living conditions of the people, the package will help in tackling law and order problems in these districts.
Out of 56,000 settlements in the State, nearly 8,000 settlements are still deprived of basic facilities such as roads, sanitation, schools, dispensaries and communication links.
Nearly 4,000 such settlements are located in the four districts.
Mr. Jairaj said 1,351 km of road would be laid and other facilities would be provided to the residents of these eight taluks. The project would be implemented during a five-year period. The Union and State governments would share the cost in the ratio of 90:10.
Last month, the Centre sanctioned a package of Rs. 634 crore for developing 2,450 km of rural roads in all districts under the Prime Minister's Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). The project would be implemented within 18 months from commencement, the Principal Secretary said.
Mr. Jairaj said the roads under the special package would be laid on the lines of PMGSY in the eight taluks. Separate proposals on development of roads and other infrastructure would be prepared for each taluk and would be submitted to the Union Ministry of Rural Development for approval.
"This package will facilitate development activities in the forest areas of the three districts and drought-prone Pavagada taluk," he said.
Senior police officials have identified villages which have no roads and where naxalites have spread their activities. Since the naxal activity is a socio-economic problem, the Government has decided to implement the package and prevent people from being influenced by naxalites.
"This is the only way that we can considerably weaken the movement in Malnad areas," an official said.