The Centre has taken development to Maoist strongholds through the Integrated Action Plan (IAP), but opinion is divided on whether the three-year-old programme has bridged the “trust deficit” — the objective outlined by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
According to official statistics, around 90% of the projects under the IAP for 78 Naxal-affected districts across the country have been completed. Despite the apparent success, a revamped IAP is likely to be implemented from April 2013.
Locals have no say
Planning Commission member Mihir Shah, a critic of the present system adopted to implement the R3,500 crore plan, says the flagship programme alienates the intended beneficiaries because locals have no say in decision-making.
According to Shah, government officials responsible for the trust deficit in the first
place are the ones who decide on the projects taken up under the IAP. “Without involvement of local beneficiaries and civil society as a third party monitor, the plan cannot work,” says Shah, who is pressing for re-orienting the approach to IAP.
Involving locals in the plan would help identify area-specific needs, generate employment and win them over.
Under the programme, villages in the Naxal-affected districts are provided high quality roads, anganwadi centres, schools, health centres and drinking water. So far, 64,000 projects have been undertaken in 378,058 habitations.
The IAP, described as “successful” by home minister P Chidambaram, is also grappling with lack of skilled manpower.
Around 25% of the posts of medical staff in newly created public health centres are vacant. Many new schools have only ad hoc and untrained teachers.
The Planning Commission aims to overcome some of these issues by narrowing down the focus area from districts to blocks.
“Instead of stretching the funds across a district, it is better to focus on the poorest and most deprived blocks in the Naxal-affected districts,” says Shah.
A new approach
The new approach, which will see higher participation of civil society and locals in decision-making, has the backing of rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
The fresh approach will build on the work already done. Sudha Pillai, who implemented the programme till her retirement at the end of March, believes the IAP has presented a new model for implementation of government programmes. “Focused approach and dedicated monitoring has worked.”