Thursday, December 21, 2006

Naxal threat: Centre turns heat on Jharkhand

Naxal threat: Centre turns heat on Jharkhand

NEW DELHI: Jharkhand may have to brave some tough-talking from the Centre for its “below-the-mark” performance in countering Naxalism, particularly its failure to utilise funds for development schemes in affected districts, at the meeting of the coordination centre on Naxalism in Bhubaneswar slated for December 27.

Besides discussing synergy of operations between the 13 affected states and taking stock of the states’ progress on their individual counter-extremism action plans, the coordination centre headed by the Union home secretary will be reviewing the situation in Jharkhand where two major attacks, including a train hijack, this month have left 15 people dead. Jharkhand has been a matter of concern for the Centre as it has, following the Bokaro blast on December 2, joined Chattisgarh in terms of increased Naxal violence.

Although killings in Jharkhand until November 30, 2006, were marginally lower than the corresponding period last year, the 15 casualties recorded early this month have upset all calculations. The killings this year are higher than those recorded last year.

Though counter-Naxal operations by Jharkhand police are seen on track, the Centre is of the view that the state has not been following the dos-and-dont’s for guerrilla warfare. In the December 2 blast , it was found that the police party showed laxity not only in following a different route but took their vehicle over an untarred patch that displayed obvious signs of having been mined.

Though state CM Madhu Koda later met Union home minister Shivraj Patil and sought additional forces, it was pointed out to him that the state was not utilising the forces already put at its disposal.

and wasting them in routine law and order duties. Besides, the Jharkhand police’ vacancy position is a clear cause for concern: 29% of the posts are yet to be filled.

Mr Koda, it is learnt, was asked to get his house in order and report back on the corrective measures taken by him at another meeting to be held early next month. It is not only in terms of police manpower that the state has erred: it also has a poor record in utilisation of funds released for development schemes in the Naxal-affected districts as well as for modernisation of its police force.

According to sources here, the state has an unutilised balance of Rs 240 crore allotted to it under the BDI and other schemes to be implemented in affected districts. The funds released so far stand at Rs 650 crore, of which Rs 390 crore was under the BDI scheme alone. Of the latter, Rs 130 crore remains unutilised.

The state has to share 25% of the expense on BDI and police modernisation scheme. Interestingly, Mr Koda has not claimed lack of finances to fund this 25% component.

Even under the police modernisation scheme, Jharkhand has been a poor performer, at least for the last two years. In 2004-05, utilisation of the Rs 22.23 crore released was a minuscule 7.33%. The same pattern is being repeated regarding utilisation of the Rs 40-crore police modernisation fund released by the Centre this year


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