The government has decided to dress at least 2,000 engineers in khaki to build key infrastructures in Naxal-hit areas.
Ten specialised battalions of the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) — a centrally-funded armed force for the state - will be raised, with almost one-fourth of each battalion comprising engineers or technical people.
The idea would be to deploy these forces in Naxal-hit areas where construction work is difficult to undertake because of the activities of the red brigade. Private contractors are not forthcoming in bidding for developmental projects in the Red Corridor.
Even the Border Roads Organisation-the key construction agency for the armed forces-was also deployed in some area but it had to be withdrawn as the agency had other priorities in the India-China border.
The distribution of these 10 battalions will be: Orissa (3), Jharkhand (1), Madhya Pradesh (1), Chhattisgarh (2), West Bengal (1) and Bihar (2).
Top sources in the UPA told HT that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will soon give its formal approval and there are no objections from any quarters. The home ministry plans to raise these forces by 2014.
While the total strength of each battalion would be 1,116, there will be 274 engineers or personnel with technical skills in each battalion.
Currently, only the armed forces have dedicated engineering corps in its team.
IRB is financially supported by the centre with the home ministry spending almost Rs 27 crore on each battalion.