Maoist-affected areas in focus, Baghel meets Shah

With Assembly elections a little over one-and-a-half years away, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel seems to be focussing more on developmental initiatives in the Maoist-affected areas. He met Home Minister Amit Shah here on Wednesday and handed him over a charter of demands, including continuation of special assistance given to seven districts affected by Left-wing extremism.

He also discussed the impact of GST on resources of the state but his stress was on infrastructure development in Maoist-affected districts — expansion of road network, livelihood development and development of banks. He urged Shah to take steps to increase communication facility in Maoist-affected areas, deployment of two more battalions of CRPF in Bastar and formation of a special ‘Bastariya Battalion’.

He told Shah that the state was in need of 13 additional battalions of central paramilitary forces to set up a forward launching base camp to address the around 6,800-km security vacuum in Abujhmad and Indravati National Park.

He requested the Home Minister to make available iron ore at a 30 per cent discount to steel plants to be set up in Bastar, arguing that it will attract investments and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs. He pointed out that iron ore is available in abundance in the Bastar region but due to the difficult terrain, grid electricity is yet to reach in large parts.

Baghel asked the central government to provide grants to build a cold chain network for processing and sale of forest produce, medicinal plants and horticulture products.

To combat Maoists, he asked the government to reimburse the expenditure incurred on helicopters under the Security Related Expenditure scheme. He also asked the Home Minister to assist the state in constructing prefabricated bridges in Maoist-affected areas.

He also urged the central government to take steps to increase the resolution of cameras fitted on NTRO unmanned aerial vehicles, which the Centre has provided to the state, to sharpen the anti-Maoist operations. As for the GST, he said discontinuing GST compensation to the states will have an impact on Chhattisgarh’s economic condition.

“If funds are not available for development work in Naxal-affected areas, it will have a great impact on the state’s economy,” Baghel said.

Writes to PM on aspirational districts

Baghel also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “include elements of cultural upliftment in the prevailing parameters to check development of aspirational districts of Chhattisgarh”. He wrote, “With the addition of education in local dialect, reduction in malaria and anemia, procurement of minor forest produce at support price, conservation-promotion of folk art, folk dance and archeology, organic farming, forest rights lease as indicators, I am sure that the efforts being made for the holistic development of the aspirational districts will also be taken care of and the hope with which this separate monitoring system of the aspirational districts has been started will also be successful.
Chhattisgarh has 10 aspirational districts out of which seven are in the Bastar division, affected by Left Wing Extremism.

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