Odisha plans projects in Naxal stronghold

There was no development in Swabhiman Anchal due to its remoteness, extremists

February 10, 2020 05:14 am | Updated 05:26 am IST - BHUBANESWAR

Marijuana plants seen near the Balimela reservoir in Malkangiri district of Odisha. The government is planning to promote turmeric cultivation in such areas.

Marijuana plants seen near the Balimela reservoir in Malkangiri district of Odisha. The government is planning to promote turmeric cultivation in such areas.

After the security forces made their presence felt in Swabhiman Anchal, a stronghold of CPI (Maoist), in Odisha’s Malkangiri district, the State government has lined up development projects, including livelihood programmes and irrigation facilities, besides critical road networks for the region.

Swabhiman Anchal remained outside the ambit of development for years due to its remoteness, poor connectivity, hilly and inhospitable terrain and above all the presence of outlawed left wing extremists.

Integrated farming

The administration has decided to promote turmeric cultivation by replacing prohibited cannabis cultivation while all nine gram panchayats will be covered under integrated farming.

Avoiding top-down approach in development, the government has taken a decision to listen to locals who understand ground situation better than others. A five-day workshop has been proposed at the Gopabandhu Academy of Administration at Bhubaneswar.

According to proceedings of a meeting held recently under the chairmanship of the State Development Commissioner, implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) will be given priority before embarking on path of development.

Approval and sanction of community forest rights (CFR) and individual forest rights (IFR) under the FRA will be taken up in the mission mode. Prompt sanction of titles under the FRA is seen as a confidence building measure in Swabhiman Anchal. The government will emulate model of Maharashtra where CFR has been granted in expeditious manner for making tribals partners in development. People of Swabhiman Anchal are likely to be taken to Maharashtra for field visit.

Millet cultivation

The administration is contemplating to take up millet cultivation in the region in a big way and procure surplus produces from villages. It is proposed to open a farmer resource centre at Badapada to help avail different scheme services in Swabhiman Anchal.

For overall development, a plan has been mooted to install lift irrigation points alongside the Balimela reservoir basin so that irrigation facilities could be made available round the year. The administration proposed to provide an 11-kv power line exclusively for irrigation projects.

The Odisha police have claimed to have established their domination in 70% of Swabhiman Anchal which was considered as a liberated zone by the Left ultras. Along with the Odisha police and their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh, paramilitary forces such as BSF and CRPF are deployed in the cut-off area consisting of 151 villages, encircled by a water channel from three sides.

One and half years ago, the Odisha government managed to construct a bridge over the Gurupriya River despite stiff resistance from the extremists, ending decades-old remoteness. The bridge linked the cut-off area with mainland. Security forces have been providing protection to lay roads in the region. As the pace of development picked up, villagers confronted with left wing extremists on January 25 and in the brawl, a Naxal had died. Last month, the Odisha police led a composite operation which led to huge arms and ammunition seizure.

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