Odisha asks Centre for funds to build roads in Maoist heartland
The Swabhiman Anchal containing 151 villages in 9 gram panchayats remains a major cause of concern for the state police as Maoist commanders of the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee operate there.Updated: Jul 07, 2019 23:52 IST
One year after the Odisha government connected the Maoist heartland of Swabhiman Anchal (earlier known as cut-off area) in Malkangiri district to the mainland by constructing a 900-metre-long bridge over river Gurupriya, it has proposed to the Centre to fund the road infrastructure creation in the Naxal bastion.
The Swabhiman Anchal containing 151 villages in 9 gram panchayats remains a major cause of concern for the state police as Maoist commanders of the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee operate there. Sandwiched between the Balimela reservoir on one side and daunting hills on the other side, for almost four decades, the area was out of bounds for the government till last year, when it managed to build the bridge risking Maoist violence.
Though the bridge over river Gurupriya was opened last year, security forces anticipate an increase in violence in Malkangiri on the Andhra-Odisha border after Maoist commander Basavraj took over the reins of CPI (Maoist).
“The situation in Malkangiri is dynamic and Maoists will try their best to show resilience by committing acts of violence. After a long time we could hold the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in Malkangiri without any violence. Now, we have to quickly build roads inside to gain a strategic advantage over the Maoists,” said a senior police official of Odisha, referring to the killing of a tribal villager in the district last week. The tribal villager was abducted with two others last week, but killed in a praja court after being accused of being a ‘police informer’.
Officials said to reach out to the people inside the Maoist heartland of Swabhiman Anchal; the state government has sent a proposal of Rs 55.5 crore to the rural development ministry for construction of a 120 km concrete road there. The roads to be constructed under the Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism (RCPLWE) programme of RD ministry would connect places like Papermetla, Panasput, Kuntulpadar, Musruguda, Jodambo, Laxmipuram and Kumuda where Maoists have a free run. Though the Border Security Forces have set up three camps and India Reserve Battalion has one camp inside the Swabhiman Anchala area, a cat-and-mouse game between the security forces and Maoists has been ensuing as to who holds the edge.
Malkangiri district officials said apart from roads, the state government is trying to improve health and other infrastructure through Socio Economic Transformation and Upliftment scheme, a Rs 100 crore programme. About 70 per cent of the Rs 100 crore scheme is meant for creation of capital assets like schools, electrical sub-stations and roads of over 96 km while the remaining 30 per cent will be spent on revenue expenditure, delivery of services and livelihood opportunity creation. To wean away the tribals from Ganja cultivation, the government is planning to promote turmeric cultivation.
“Lack of infrastructure remains a major concern. The district has 60% vacancy in doctors and 48 per cent vacancy in staff nurses. It needs more health centres in the Swabhiman Anchal so that people don’t have to travel long distances for availing health services. We have managed to get a toehold in the Maoist bastion. We should not lose the initiative,” said a senior district official.