Two big central government initiatives to push development in Maoist-affected areas are in trouble.
The government has slashed funds for the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) and road connectivity project in Maoist-affected districts that were at the heart of the Centre’s effort to provide basic infrastructure facilities to poor tribals and villagers.
The road transport ministry recently washed its hands of the road connectivity project after the government earmarked just Rs. 5,400 crore for roads in naxal districts against schemes that require Rs. 16,000 crore.
Also, the Centre has earmarked just Rs. 1,000 crore for targeted development in naxal- affected districts, less than half of the Rs. 2,400 crore that was released annually to 82 districts under the IAP.
Chidambaram – who had conceived a centrally-coordinated offensive against armed Maoist guerillas in 2009 – had driven the IAP to give district authorities a free hand to spend Rs. 30 crore on basic facilites such as healthcare and roads.
The Planning Commission, which wanted the money to be routed through panchayats, had opposed this model.
But with Chidambaram moving to finance ministry, the plan panel resurrected its model and moved to merge IAP with the Backward Regions Grant Fund and proposed just Rs. 1,000 crore as additional aid for left-wing extremism affected districts.
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde protested. But there was no one listening,
“As a project, the IAP demonstrated for once that Delhi understood the ground situation in areas where the bullet — and not the ballot — has the last word,” a district collector in Chhattisgarh complained.
Already, 75% of the 1 lakh projects started across 82 districts — 71 of them naxal-affected — have been completed at a cost of Rs. 4,000 crore.
“If the district administration doesn’t have money to spend, how does the state win back the trust of the people,” a police officer asked.