Update: The Odisha CM is making the case that five more districts be included in the list of naxal-hit districts that should be targeted for infrastructure development schemes. Those are: Koraput, Mayurbhanj, Sundergarh, Keonjhar and Kandhamal.
Following is the content of an email that summarizes a point that I have tried to make over the last couple of years. It seems the planning commission has started thinking along the same lines.
The nations attention at this time seems to be focused on the Maoist issue. While the law and order steps are probably necessary, this is a good time to recall the lessons that India learned (and that seems to have worked) in J& K and North East.
What is that lesson?
The lesson is regarding what worked in the North East and J & K is not just policing but the investment of vast amount of funds towards development programs there.
A similar approach at the same level of funding needs to be taken for the areas that are affected by the Maoist problem.
What is the level of funding for North east and J & K?
Following is extracted from the attached document from the Ministry of Home GOI.
(I can not locate it in their web page now, but I have uploaded the copy I had downloaded from their site to the site http://www.orissalinks.com/bigfiles/internal%20security.pdf )
- PM’s reconstruction plan for J&K announced in Nov 2004 is for Rs. 24,000 crores.
- 1,83,018 crores is allocated for economic development in the North east.
In contrast, for the Maoist affected areas in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal; only Rs. 3007.50 crores were spend via Backward Districts Initiative and Rs. 1930.52 crores via Backwards Region Grant Fund.
What is the impact?
J & K and North east vs Maoist affected areas in terms of violence:
- Militancy in J & K resulted in the killing of 1,883 civilians and 789 security forces personnel.
- The militancy-related fatalities in the north-east were 1,909 civilians and 361 security forces personnel."
In contrast 2,281 civilians and 821 security forces personnel were killed between 2004 and 2008 (up to August 31) due to Maoist activity.
Thus there were more civilians and security forces killed between 2004-2008 due to Maoist activity than each in J& K and North east.
I think India needs to pay as much attention (in terms of money and development programs) to the Maoist affected areas as it is paying to J&K and North East.
Moreover, the Maoist affected areas are much poorer, much less literate, and overall more backward in all parameters than J&K and the Northeast. While J&K and Northeast are in the physical frontier of India, the Maoist affected areas are the third frontier. One must note that many countries have had more lives lost in fighting or other uphevels in their interior than in fighting an extrenal enemy. Following are some examples:
Thus, just because the Maoist affected areas are in the interior, they should not get less development related attention than J&K and Northeast. As the above numbers show, trouble in the interior can be actually worse than trouble in the physical frontier.
In other words, it would be prudent for GOI to take the Maoist affected areas of India as seriously as J&K and Northeast, and perhaps even more seriously, as they are more backward than J&K and Northeast and put as much or more development resources in those areas.
Currently train lines, roads, airports (in general connectivity) to J&K and Northeast are being fast-tracked and sometimes labeled as National projects. A similar approach to connectivity (rail, roads, etc.) and other development in the Maoist affected areas of India (that includes KBK, Kandhamala, Sudnergarh, Mayurbhanj etc. of Orissa) must be taken urgently.
Dear Sirs: I would like you to use the above numbers, recall the lessons learned from J & K and North East and take a balanced approach to the maoist problem; Law and order aspects combined with development programs at the same scale as in J & K and Northeast.
There is now an indication that the planning commission has started thinking along the same lines.Following is an excerpt from a report in Indian Express.
The Plan panel would be ready with the final draft of the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for development
of the 35 naxal-hit districts spread over nine states in a month’s time.
“The Commission should be ready with the final draft of IAP in a month as consultations with organisations like civil societies are still on,” Member Planning Commission Mihir Shah told reporters after a meeting on IAP with non-government organisation here.
… Shah said funding under the IAP would be done for three years. There are suggestions from civil societies that in the naxal hit districts, Panchayti Raj institutions like Gram Sabha and Panchayat should be used for inclusive development.
… Last week, Ahluwalia had indicated that the panel is working on Rs 13,742 crore financial package for these 35 districts.
He had also disclosed that the proposal came from the Cabinet Committee on Security and would be for a three-year period for infrastructure development.
… The commission is also looking at the possibility of implementing the PESA (Panchayats Extension to Schedule Areas) Act, 1996, to give tribals the right to use minor forest produce.
Parts of as many as nine states — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal
— are in the grip of Naxalism.
Among these 35 districts five are in Odisha. They are: Malkangiri, Rayagada, Gajapati, Sambalpur and Deogarh. The Orissa government is pushing to include Koraput in that list.
Although this is a good start, I think much more needs to be done and to the larger area that I refer to as the third frontier. Perhaps a larger plan can be made for the 12th plan starting 2012. The approach to the 12th five year plan could be a good starting point to submit our feedback. I think the package of Rs 13,742 crores for 35 districts is a good start but not enough. The amount has to be much higher and the number of districts need to be more. In Odisha (see forest map) Kandhamala (51.51% ST), Mayurbhanj (57.87 ST), and Nabarangpur (55.27% ST) (Keonjhar and Sundergarh also have high ST percent, but they are being developed for other reasons anyway) need to be included and the infrastructure to be fast-tracked must also include Railway lines such as Khurda-Balangir line and the Chakulia-Buaramara line.