Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has decided to stand up to the Planning Commission’s attempt to scrap the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) conceived to bridge the development deficit in naxal-affected districts, setting the stage for a confrontation between the two bodies.
The plan panel wants the Rs 30 crore given to 82-naxal affected districts under IAP to be routed through the government’s flagship scheme, Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF).
This would give panchayat leaders a key role in spending the money rather than let a committee of the district collector, forest officer and police chief — set up under the IAP — decide the projects that the district needs.
The first indication that Shinde would not give in to the plan panel came this week in Parliament when his junior minister Jitendra Singh emphasised that the IAP, “in its current format is performing extremely well”.
“The state governments are also highly appreciative of the scheme and want more districts covered under its ambit,” Singh told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday in response to suggestions for an active role for the panchayats.
Like his predecessor P Chidambaram who had blocked a similar attempt by the panel to involve the panchayats in 2010, Shinde too is veering round to the view that this view was not grounded in reality for areas where the bullet, and not the ballot, has the last word.
Countering the panel’s argument that IAP was ineffective since money was not being spent on the worst-affected blocks of a district, home ministry officials said this was not just a part of the counter insurgency strategy.
The strategy is to first deliver a generous dose of development in the fringes and then gradually move towards the core.
Agreed a district collector in Chhattisgarh, wondering how the panel expected any agency or contractor to execute any project in the core areas where even security forces couldn’t move. “I would assume this is common sense,” he said, pointing that there had already been two incidents of collectors getting abducted when they tried to develop the interiors.