PHULBANI: Frequent attacks by Maoists on contractors engaged in different projects and their camps in Kandhamal in the last few years have severely affected the development work in the district. Baliguda sub-division of the district has become a hotbed of Maoist activities.
While the State Government is focusing on improving roads in the region and releasing funds for the purpose, the Maoists are trying to block these projects as they apprehend that infrastructure development may create hindrance for them in implementing their agenda of violence. On the other hand, the district level officials are reluctant to visit the construction sites due to increasing Maoist threats. Sources said construction works on Srirampur-Subarnagiri, Matrugaon-Belghar, Baliguda-Barakhama and Sindhrigaon-Boudh roads and a bridge over Karasara river at an estimated cost of `five crore are going on with the financial assistance from Nabard. But the work has been delayed due to lack of monitoring and threats from the Maoists.
This apart, Baliguda Public Works Department (PWD) is implementing projects worth `400 crore and has engaged different construction companies to expedite the work. But most of the projects have been slowed down for the last four to five months after the contractors and labourers expressed apprehensions over frequent threats at the construction sites. Sometimes, the Maoists demand ransom from the contractors.
Admitting the fact, Executive Engineer of Baliguda PWD Ashwani Biswal said, “We need regular combing operations and deployment of more security personnel near the construction sites to continue the work.”
In June this year, an SOG jawan was killed and seven others sustained injuries in an ambush by Maoists at Khamankhol village under Baliguda police limits. Similarly, a woman Maoist was killed and two security personnel were injured in an exchange of fire in a forest under Barakhama police outpost in September.
In October, a Gram Sathi of Durgapanga village under Kotagarh police limits was abducted and killed by the Maoists. Recently, a bandh call was given by the Maoists in the area protesting development work. The red rebels are making their presence felt by putting up banners in different areas.