Chhattisgarh flounders on roadmap for Naxal-hit states

Chhattisgarh, the state with the worst history of Naxal violence over the last decade, is finding it difficult to implement the Centre’s ambitious road construction projects in areas affected by left wing extremism (LWE).
Documents accessed by Hindustan Times show that of the 44 road
projects sanctioned in the state under the first phase of the Centre’s plan, only three were completed by the end of 2011.

Of the eight Maoist-infested states for which the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre drew up the plan, BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh had the highest allocation of R2,332 crore for the first phase.

The Centre cleared the second phase of the road projects — one of the mainstays in the fight against Maoists — in December last year, even as Chhattisgarh struggled to take roads to rebel strongholds.

State principal secretary MK Raut, who was recently shifted out of the public works department, said constructing roads in core Maoist areas was not just daunting but frightening as well. “We kept on trying. Tenders were floated as many as eight times, but the contractors often backed off.”

Raut said results could be achieved only after area domination (under which security forces wrest control of Maoist strongholds) and tackling the fear factor.

Between 2008 and 2011, Maoists have killed 382 security personnel and 544 civilians in Chhattisgarh. During the same period, 295 Maoists have been killed.

Local leaders voiced similar fears over executing the road transport ministry’s projects. “When Maoists can carry out explosions on national highways, it is easy to presume how difficult it will be to undertake road projects,” said Bhima Mandavi, the BJP MLA from Dantewada, south Bastar.

State Congress president Nand Kumar Patel, however, said the state government lacked the will to execute the road projects.

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