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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

A stronger Menon back to develop naxal-hit Bastar

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  Sukma, May 29, 2012
First Published: 23:55 IST(29/5/2012) | Last Updated: 01:07 IST(30/5/2012)

Before the naxals released him, Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon had asked them if they want him to leave the place. His captors reportedly raised no such demand, but laid down a stringent list of do’s and don’ts.

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While bringing electricity and drinking water to the remote Bastar region of Chhattisgarh was allowed, building roads in the area was a strict no-no.

As it turns out, the 2006-batch IAS officer is not going to cave in. And he is already planning a return to Majhipara – the place from where he was kidnapped by armed Maoists on April 21. “I will go there within a week. I wanted to inaugurate a R3-crore MGNREGS project, but that did not happen because I was abducted. I want to pick up from exactly where I left," a smiling Paul Menon told HT at the administrative officer’s club in Sukma. This time, of course, with more security. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/5/30_05_pg10a.jpg

After spending 12 days in naxal captivity, Menon seems to have become the UPA government’s new guide, as far as developmental of the area is concerned. Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who toured Sukma town with Menon for the entire day, wanted to know what he had “learnt from the stint with the Maoists”.

Sukma’s superhero not only shared his ideas with Ramesh, but also got approvals for many projects from Central ministers.

When Ramesh called up road transport minister CP Joshi at the behest of Menon, he agreed to break up the 80-km-long Sukma-Konta road project into smaller projects, so there could be more participation from local residents. The Sukma collector also got immediate assurance that his district would be added under the National Rural Health Mission to tap more funds. “Don’t ask for permissions for everything, Alex, just do it,” Ramesh told him before leaving the place.

The Maoists have also given a temporary assurance that Menon won’t be abducted. When the collector had asked his abductors why he was kidnapped in the first place, he was told that people like him are like “LIC policies” for naxals – the pawns in their low-intensity conflicts.


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