Ramesh admits Abhujmaad in Chhattisgarh ‘liberated’ zone

RANCHI: The Union rural development minister has endorsed the claim that the Maoists have been making since long.

Jairam Ramesh here on Sunday admitted that Abhujmaad is a liberated zone of the Maoists where both central and state governments have no reach. Talking to TOI, he said his ministry was unable to take up development projects in the region because of lack of administration.

He was answering a question as to why Saranda or Sarju in Jharkhand were picked up for accelerated developmental action plan, while the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, especially the southern part of the state where the forests extend to Maharashtra, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and is more under-developed and has been serving a fertile ground to the Maoist movement, was not. Ramesh said he was aware of the remoteness and underdevelopment of the region but no government schemes could be floated in the region because of robust presence of the Maoists and lack of administrative approach. “Abujhmaad is a liberated zone where governments have not been able to reach. It is not possible for our ministry to carry out any development programme there,” he said.

Abujhmaad is a forest region spread over 4,000 sqkm in south Chhattisgarh that extends to Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

“We decided to launch Saranda and Sarju action (development) plans because the necessary security actions were successful in these parts,” he said adding that some effort had been made in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. “There are certain pockets in southern Chhattisgarh that have been out of our touch since Independence and places like Bijapur, Narainpur, Dantewada and Sukma in Chhattisgarh, Malkangiri in Odisha, Gadhchiroli in Maharashtra have come under the influence of the Maoists,” he said.

Speaking about his plans to deal with the Maoists so that the government can penetrate into the liberated zones, Ramesh said a four-fold strategy was required under which development and security action must be followed by political mobilization and justice to the people. “Unless political parties of different hues initiate and intensify their activities, the youths will be attracted to the Maoists, the only voice heard in these regions,” he said.

Asked about the logic of confining Saranda action plan to Jharkhand whereas the Saranda forests extend deep into Odisha as well, Ramesh said his ministry was now planning to incorporate the plan into parts of Odisha. “During this visit I was told by the local MLA Gurcharan Nayak that several districts of Odisha come under Saranda and there is an urgent need to initiate developmental plans there,” he said.

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