In a letter war between Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth on how to tackle red terror, Jairam has become the loser. In 2012, the minister had criticised the UPA’s flagship program - Integrated Action Plan (IAP)-which is designed to tackle red terror through development.
Last July, he had asked the Prime Minister to scrap the IAP - the brainchild of the Home Ministry and the Planning Commission, running in 82 Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts across the nine states. In his letter to the Prime Minister, Jairam had ridiculed the project, saying that such ‘one-size-fit-to-all’ projects are not very effective to deal with the issue. Responding to Jairam’s criticism, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth ruled out any possibility of scrapping or diluting the originality of IAP.
The letter dated April 11, 2013, accessed by Express reveals that the PMO had discussed the issue with other ministries concerned in a high level review meeting before writing a comprehensive note to Jairam Ramesh giving details of steps taken by the government to ensure development in Naxal affected areas.
“Planning commission is reviewing the definition for identification of backward districts under Integrated Action Plan (IAP)/Backward Region Grant Fund. They have been advised to maintain features and the unique distinctiveness of IAP in a merged IAP/ BRGF,” Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth wrote to Jairam. The Cabinet Secretary said that following Jairam’s letter to Prime Minister regarding certain issues of critical importance in the naxal affected districts, all those issues were first examined by the Home Ministry and later it was further discussed by a review group on January 28, 2013.
The meeting was chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. Commenting on the IAP in the review group meeting on January 28, cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth said that IAP has been a successful scheme in naxal affected areas.
Seth also refuted Jairam’s earlier theory that the monitoring team of IAP headed by District Collector was ineffective. Cabinet Secretary was of the view that inclusion of district level officials was pre-requisite for grass-root development.
“The IAP has been a good scheme of development in difficult areas on account of its features like providing untied funds to the District Collector for selecting schemes of local relevance and felt needs,” Seth observed. He also advised the Home Ministry to inform the Planning Commission, regarding their requirements for the IAP scheme.
In meeting attended by over 14 concerned ministries on January 28, Home Secretary R K Singh also pitched for the IAP scheme saying it has been quite successful in development of LWE districts and wanted the project to continue as it is in the 12th plan. The scheme is monitored and implemented by a Committee headed by the District Collector and consisting of the Superintendent of Police of the District and the District Forest Officer.