BHAWANIPATNA: With Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) continuing their inroads into Kalahandi district taking advantage of its poor economy and lack of development, the Centre has given thrust to the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) to gain confidence of the people and dissuade them from going to Maoist fold.
Ironically, despite its backwardness, Kalahandi was free from Maoist activities a few years back when its neighbouring districts like Nabarangpur, Nuapada and Rayagada and neighbouring State of Chhattisgarh were in strong grip of Maoists.
However, in past four years, Maoist cadres have gained foothold in the tribal dominated inaccessible pockets of Kalahandi causing security concerns. They have been targeting various development projects and have come face to face with security forces several times. The Red ultras have also allegedly murdered two persons during the period.
With LWEs making their presence felt in nine out of 13 blocks, Kalahandi is now one of 18 Maoist affected districts of the State. The worst hit blocks are Lanjigarh, M Rampur, Th Rampur, Golamunda, Bhawanipatna, Junagarh and Koksara.
However, in a bid to appease the people and prevent them from turning their ire against the administration by joining the Maoists through development, the Centre introduced holistic IAP in Maoist affected areas in 2010-11.
Out of 2,765 projects sanctioned for the district, 2,759 have been taken up by the end of last financial year. The thrust is on ensuring road connectivity, construction of schools, anganwadi and public health centres, market yards besides drinking water provision and irrigation facilities. Out of `134.46 crores sanctioned for various projects, `134.19 crores have been spent till now.
Kalahandi SP Brijesh Kumar Rai said the purpose of IAP is to bridge the critical gap in development in LWE infested tribal areas. Citing an example, he said the proposed Badpadar to Karlapat road under IAP will directly link the two tribal dominated blocks of Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur.
Similarly, the road from Gotomunda to Duhimal will link Umarkote of Nabrangpur district with Koksara block of Kalahandi. The SP said the IAP projects have started yielding result with people of the areas, where the development works have been undertaken, realising the futility of Maoist campaign.
Deputy Director (Planning and Coordination) Bimbadhar Sethi said several innovative interventions have been launched under IAP in the district like gravity-based irrigation/check dams, piped water supply, model sanitary complexes and hygienic steam cooling systems in TRW schools.
Ten gravity based water flow projects for irrigation and piped drinking water have been launched in the district while 37 check dams have increased irrigation potential in hilly areas. In Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur blocks, six weekly market sheds have been constructed benefiting 150 villages, he added.