Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday asked Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to consult Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P. Chidambaram before finalising the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for Left-Wing Extremism affected (LWE) districts. Mr. Ahluwalia made a presentation before Dr. Singh on the action plan.

Later, Mr. Ahluwalia met Mr. Chidambaram.

Commission sources told The Hindu that the IAP was still “pretty much in the discussion stage,” with no consensus yet on whether it should address 35 or 60 districts. “There is a sense that the plan should address not just the LWE districts but all tribal areas if it is to address the tribal problem that is leading to the growth of Maoist activity,” the sources said. It was only after there was some finality on what and how much the IAP would address, would a note be prepared for the Cabinet. However, the government was keen on finalising the plan as quickly as possible, so that it could be rolled out as soon as possible, with those districts where there was “incipient” Maoist activity — rather than those where an “armed conflict” was on — tackled first, the sources said.

Within the Commission, there are two views: one group, which includes Mihir Shah, feels that the number of IAP districts should be increased from 35 to 60 so that the development deficit in the deeply forested, tribal-dominated districts with incipient Maoist activity, and contiguous to those which are the worst affected, can be tackled quickly before they too come under Maoist sway. The other view, coming from Member-Secretary Sudha Pillai, is that the number of districts should be restricted to 35, as otherwise, there will be less money for each district.

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