Concerned over the extreme left groups’ penetration into tribal territories and their ability to win over the hearts and minds of people deprived of basic necessities of life, the government has drawn-up a nine point action plan to deal with a host of development challenges. The action plan is an outcome of series of meeting of a specially constituted Review Group of LWE (Left-Wing Extremism) under the aegis of the Cabinet Secretariat.

The Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flagged a number of issues and concerns in the tribal belt across the country, which have come under the influence of the extreme left groups. Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth in a letter addressed to Mr. Ramesh on April 11 (a copy of which is available with The Hindu ) noted the status of action taken on issues raised by him. He said the government had decided to expedite the “recognition of forest rights,” as well as review the definition of backward districts under the Integrated Action Plan/Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) as part of the action plan. It said that comprehensive guidelines were issued to State/ Union Territory governments for “expeditious recognition” of forests rights, including the community rights and community forest resource rights under the Act.

According to the document, the Planning Commission Secretary also said that there was no incentive in IAP to motivate the machinery to reduce the incidence of left-wing extremism and hence it was felt that there was a need to advance from the ad hoc criteria of selecting districts to a more outcome oriented criterion. Taking note of the gap and requirement of large residential schools, the Director of School Education and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs are looking to establish such institutions with a minimum of 1000-2000 students in the LWE areas.

To improve the communication infrastructure Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will install 2199 low cost mobile towers in those areas. The Telecom Commission is also exploring energy efficient alternate fuels such as solar energy.

A special window, too, has been introduced under the Forest Conservation Act to expedite the laying of transmission lines under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojna (RGGVY). The Ministry of Environment and Forests has given a notification to cover all the 82 IAP districts granting general approval under the Forest Conservation Act for diversion of forest land up to 5 acres.

The Ministry of Power will review pending works in 1776 villages to ascertain the ones which can be “cleared with the issuance of the new notification.” The Mobile Health Units will address the LWE districts “endemically affected” by malaria. Additionally, an increase in Mobile Health Units is likely to be introduced in the 12th Plan.

To address the absence of post offices and banks in the LWE affected areas, there has been “a proposal to open post offices in 12898 gram panchayats in 82 identified LWE affected districts.”