BHUBANESWAR:The State Government’s apprehension that discontinuation of Central assistance for police modernisation and security infrastructure schemes may affect the anti-Maoist initiatives in Odisha may not be entirely unfounded. For, the State was one of the biggest beneficiary of Special Infrastructure Scheme (SIS).
In the last two years, Odisha received the highest volume of funds from the Centre so far as SIS was concerned. Out of Rs 122.13 crore released to six Maoist-affected States of the eastern region, Odisha’s share stood at Rs 33.62 crore.
Neighbouring Chhattisgarh, which has been struggling to tackle the Left Wing Extremists (LWEs), was the second biggest beneficiary with a sanction of Rs 32.9 crore followed by Rs 19.1 crore to Bihar and Rs 16,99 crore to Andhra Pradesh. Telengana received Rs 3 crore under SIS.
While SIS was originally meant to cater to critical infrastructure gaps relating to mobility for police and security forces by way of upgradation of existing roads, establishment of camping grounds as well as helipads at key locations in remote areas, later, upgradation of infrastructure, weaponry, equipment and training of special forces were covered under the scheme.
The scheme focussed mostly on Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha where special forces have been raised to take on the LWEs but the Centre has discontinued the assistance for 2015-16 and SIS would stand transferred to individual States following the devolution of tax receipts.
“The spendings on training and infrastructure cannot be compromised lest Odisha Police may lose grounds it made over the last few years against the Maoists. The State will have to find a way to meet the expenses,” said a senior police official.
Among the eastern States, Odisha’s achievement in terms of containing the Maoist menace has been the best. Union Home Ministry sources said till April 15 this year, Odisha reported 20 Maoist incidents as against 46 till the corresponding period last year. Similarly, only four deaths have been reported in Maoist violence against seven last year. Not a single security personnel has been killed this year.
In comparison, Chhattisgarh reported 188 incidents and 46 deaths followed by 91 cases of Maoist violence and 22 deaths in Jharkhand. Andhra Pradesh and Telengana taken together showed a better performance than Odisha though.
In 2010, the State had reported 218 Maoist violence which had claimed 78 lives. However, it is just not the violence and lives of civilians and securitymen, the Naxal attacks on economic targets too have gone down significantly.
Maoists targetted railways just once this year but have spared social infrastructure such as Government buildings and roads so far. Five years back, the State suffered 17 attacks on telephone exchanges and towers - most among the eastern States - but it has dropped to zero this time.