Having already missed out on the Saranda Action Plan (SAP), the Maoist-infested Sundargarh district will suffer a major setback if the Planning Commission goes ahead with its decision to discontinue the Centre’s Integrated Action Plan (IAP) from the next financial year.
The IAP aims at bridging the development deficit in Maoist-affected districts.
According to the new plan, the Central Government will provide funds to Maoist-affected districts under the revamped Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), a flagship scheme for the overall development of socially and economically deprived districts.
The BRGF was introduced in 2006, and was the only source of funding for Maoist-hit areas before the IAP was introduced.
The remote areas of the district, including the Bonai sub-division, besides those under Bisra, Bondamunda and Lathikata police limits share porous forest border with the Maoist hub of Saranda district in adjacent Jharkhand.
These areas have bore the brunt of Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) amid Maoists’ presence in Saranda.
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had introduced SAP in Jharkhand to initiate development works.
He, however, ignored the inaccessible bordering villages of Sundargarh district.
A majority of these rural pockets lie neglected. Under these circumstances, the IAP is the only effective tool to ensure speedy development.
The district administration is now apprehensive of the fallout in the event of likely discontinuation of the IAP. Sundargarh Collector Rupa Roshan Sahu said the district spent nearly `55 crore under IAP till 2011.
This year, IAP projects worth `40 crore have been approved and an instalment of `10 crore has already reached.
She clarified that no official communication has been received regarding the merger of IAP with BRGF.
It is learnt that so far BRGF allocation with rural- urban spending ratio of 60:40 has failed to meet the development needs of the Maoist-hit pockets. Last year, the district got allocation between `25 and `30 crore under BRGF.
Officials said the much was expected from IAP which was to be implemented by a committee comprising Collector, SP and DFO.
“But BRGF seems to be driven by vested-interests where development needs are mostly sidelined,” said an official, requesting anonymity.
Birmitrapur MLA and tribal leader George Tirkey, who had written to the Centre to include MLAs and MPs of the areas in the IAP committee, said political representation would help implement IAP.