Senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday advocated a joint approach by the Centre and state governments for involving people in the developmental process of “unaffected, least affected and less affected police thanas” of 200 Naxal-hit districts in the country.
Aiyar stressed on implementation of the provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996 saying it was the best panchayati raj legislation in the country.
He said the provision mentioned above allows the centre to “urgently take action” in view of the patent failure of the
states concerned to meet the real developmental requirements of the tribal population.
Responding to Aiyar’s demand, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said while the provision existed it was unclear which ministry
would exercise the option, though it was a valid concern. “I do see the point and I will speak to the Prime Minister about a committee or an appropriate mechanism.”
Chidambaram, however, did not join issue with Aiyar on the handling of the Naxal problem, who is understood to reflect one view in the Congress on the UPA government’s handling of the Naxal problem.
Aiyar suggested a serious re-think of the “aggressive development” concept spoken in the government circles in relation to schemes in the “highly disturbed” areas.
The former union minister said with effective implementation of rights of forest dwellers and rights to resettlement and
rehabilitation, the government would have the most powerful legislative instruments at hand.
“These would do more than AK-47 guns and unmanned drones to combat the alarming spread of Naxalism in these areas,” he said.