The government should be spending more time in development works than deploying paramilitary forces in the Agency areas, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said and called upon the tribal people to participate in developmental activities and not support the extremists.

Tree plantation

He was addressing tribal farmers of Paderu Agency area at Konthili village in Hukumpeta mandal in the district at a public meeting organised to mark the plantation of the 2 millionth fruit bearing tree as part of Hariyali 60 lakh fruit tree plantation programme taken up by Naandi Foundation in association with Global Livelihoods Network and Mahindra & Mahindra.

The Union Minister invited the Maoists to participate in the panchayat process and help the community in taking up development works. Noting that extremist activity was the highest in Paderu Agency, he said that this only showed that the Maoists did not believe in the democratic process and the Constitution. Calling Maoists enemies of democracy, enemies of constitutional machinery, enemies of women self-help groups and enemies of development, he called upon the extremists to join the path of electoral democracy and contest elections.

Asserting that the government was always willing to hold talks with any group, he said that the Union Home Minister had clarified that the Maoists need not lay down arms to participate in the talks.

Mr. Jairam Ramesh urged the tribal people to help the government demilitarise the region by actively participating in the development process taken up by the government and the civil society organisations like Naandi Foundation. “We have to defeat Maoists politically, psychologically and through development,” he said.

Allocation of funds

The Union Minister had promised to allocate Rs.1 crore from his MPLADS for a model PHC at Raghavendra Nagar panchayat in G Kothavedi mandal and Rs.1 crore towards building 2,200 anganwadi buildings apart from funding one ambulance each for the 11 tribal mandals in the Agency area, Tribal Welfare Minister P. Balaraju announced on the occasion and thanked Mr. Ramesh for his dedication to the welfare of tribal people.

Project Officer ITDA Paderu Srikant Prabhakar, president of Chinna Sanakara Girijana Ryotu Paraspara Sahayaka Sangham Garam Konbu, chief executive officer Kallam Anji Reddy Chair of Naandi Foundation Manoj Kumar, president of Global Livelihoods Venture Bernard Giraud, chief sustainability officer of Naandi Foundation David Hogg, members of the Global Livelihoods network and a large number of tribal farmers were also present.

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