State seeks four more dists in Red-hit list

BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha government on Wednesday demanded inclusion of four more extremism-affected districts under the Centre’s Security Related Expenditure scheme, two dedicated helicopters to effectively fight Maoists and two additional battalions of paramilitary forces, official sources said.

At a meeting of nine Maoist-affected states convened by the Union ministry of home affairs in New Delhi, Odisha’s director general of police Manmohan Praharaj and home secretary U N Behera spoke about the measures the state government has been taking to fight the left wing extremists. They also shared information about the progress achieved in strengthening 70 police stations for which the Centre has given Rs two crore each, sources said.

Behera said a demand to include Nuapada, Balangir, Bargarh and Kalahandi districts under SRE scheme was place for the Union government’s consideration. Union home minister P Chidambaram was present at the meeting.

Under SRE, the Union government reimburses in full the money spent on anti-Maoist operations and police infrastructure improvement. Fifteen of the state’s 30 districts are already benefiting under the scheme. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik had earlier demanded inclusion of the said fur districts under SRE before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting on internal security.

Official sources said the state government representatives also demanded more central funds to carry out development works in extremism-hit areas, two dedicated helicopters to battle the guerillas and two extra battalions of Border Security Force. Currently, there are 12 battalions of central paramilitary forces in Odisha, which the MHA in a recent report on Maoist activities has categorized as “severely affected” alongside Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar.

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