NEXT STEP

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 May 2018 10:06:29

HAVING checked the advance and in some cases broken the back of Naxal insurgency in several affected states, the next logical step is to focus on the essential but stalled process of development in those remote areas. That is the message that the Central Government wanted to convey to the ten highly affected states by Maoist mayhem for the last many decades when it recently issued directives to them to expedite development projects . That the Union Government wants to give impetus to development in the remote areas, inhabited mostly by tribal populations, with urgency becomes clear from the fact that the Environment Ministry has eased some of the stringent guidelines which were hampering development projects and has empowered the state Governments to give clearances to development projects. Thus there would be no impediment in undertaking development projects in environmentally sensitive locations. Thus the Government’s priority now onwards would be on expediting the development process.

Another aspect that brings into sharp focus the urgency that the Union Government is imparting to development in left wing extremism affected areas is the powers that it has bestowed upon district committees headed by collectors and comprising Superitendent of Police and forest officials to plan the projects and allocate the funds according to their needs. This flexibility and autonomy of decision-making at the ground level was very essential for execution of projects as required by the local population. This freedom will certainly encourage the administration at the ground level to devise innovative projects that are essential for the local people.

These two steps, expeditious completion of development projects and flexibility for the local administration to devise and execute projects as per the needs of the local people, will go a long way in having a great transformative impact on the psyche of the local people. It is essential that the presence of governance is felt by the people in the Naxalite violence affected areas. So far the overwhelming presence of the armed Maoists and their brutal ways of dealing with anything that represented the Government had crippled administrative functioning, leading to near stalling of development activity or reaching Government-sponsored welfare schemes to the tribal population.

This resulted in all the welfare measures and development activity remaining on paper. While rest of the country benefited from development activity and welfare schemes undertaken by the Government from time to time, the Maoist-affected regions were deprived of all these activities.
This situation led to the tribal population remaining cut off from the rest of the country, rendering them almost incommunicado, and lack of source of earning incomes in the absence of any gainful employment. The tribals have remained mired in poverty, illiteracy, lack of healthcare, power supply, means of communication, road network, all that is available to the rest of the country.

The Government’s latest missive to the states to undertake development projects and complete them expeditiously is aimed at ending the decades of isolation of the tribal population that is imposed upon them by the so called revolutionary ideology that thrives on gory violence and trampling of all human value systems. Now that the security forces have started making inroads in Maoists’ bastions and clearing the road, it is time for the administration to take over with greater vigour so that education, healthcare, means of modern communication, opportunities of employment are created for the tribal population and they are brought in the mainstream of national life once again.