Friday, September 22, 2006

Centre pins hopes on anti-Naxal cell

Centre pins hopes on anti-Naxal cell

NEW DELHI: Not enthused by results from centralised mechanisms on countering the spread of Naxalism, Centre feels the dedicated anti-Naxal cell in Union home ministry will provide it a toehold in states for direct monitoring.

With New Delhi keeping a direct tab on states, laggard states may be forced to implement security and economic measures they have failed to take up to check the Naxal menace.

The view comes with the increasing feeling in MHA that central mechanisms — Coordination Centre, Task Force and Standing Committee of chief ministers — have not yielded the desired results as their decisions are left to states for action. The feedback on their progress, too, came from states.

Effecting a change, the anti-Naxal cell, set to be operationalised in North Block, will see officials from MHA reporting from the ground level on implementation of decisions and providing fresh inputs for policy changes in future.

Having suggested twin measures of strong police action to beat back advancing Naxals and development of backward regions to win back the poor, especially tribals, from the rebel fold, Centre feels it has to go hand in hand with the states.

As a senior official said, states have to ensure development in a pocket cleansed of Naxalites to ensure that it does not lapse into the rebel grip again. The anxiety over return of Naxals from cleared pockets is heightened in the wake of initial success in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Going by evidence, states are ignoring development as a means of winning over rebel sympathisers. The use of funds under the Backward Districts Initiative (BDI) has been poor. Meant for 55 districts in nine states, only Rs 990 crore has been spent out of the Rs 2,295 crore available in the last three years.

Development and police response to the red brigade, will both be soon under Delhi's scanner. There will be officials from police to report on the armed strategy in naxal areas while non-police officials will report on development measures there.

An official said: "The meetings thus, have been failed primarily because of the states. Now, the idea is to go to the ground and have a direct feel of the situation."

The need for monitoring development was never greater. MHA has notified an Inter-Ministerial Group to review development schemes of central ministries in Naxal areas, like BDI and Backward Regions Grant Fund, and implementation of land reforms.

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