Amid reports of Maoists augmenting their military capabilities, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has put on fast track the fortification of police stations in nine left-wing extremism (LWE)-affected States. The State governments have been asked to step up construction and renovation work at around 400 stations identified under the project, with the MHA promising more funds for it.
“The work so far has not been satisfactory…With growing concern over Maoists acquiring modern weapons and consolidating their presence in certain pockets, particularly in Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, the State governments have been asked to complete all civil works at these police stations at the earliest. This was conveyed to police chiefs of these States at the recent national conference of DGPs,” a senior MHA official told The Hindu.
It was over two years back that the Cabinet Committee on Security okayed the project. Subsequently, the MHA identified stations in 83 worst Naxal-hit districts spread across nine States — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. It was decided that a sum of Rs. 2 crore would be spent on each of these stations, with the MHA giving Rs. 1.6 crore and the State governments Rs. 40 lakh.
“So far, we have released a total amount Rs. 220 crore – Rs. 55 lakh per police station – under the scheme in the last two financial years, while in 2012-13, Rs. 210 crore has been allocated. Money will not be an issue when it comes to implementation of this ambitious project… We will release more funds on the basis of physical and financial progress made by the State government,” the official said.
Of the stations chosen, 85 are in Bihar, while 70 each are in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and another 70 in Odisha. In Andhra Pradesh, 40 stations have been identified, while 18 are in West Bengal, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, 12 in Madhya Pradesh and 10 in Maharashtra.
The official said: “Police stations with no proper infrastructure are easy targets of Maoists… They attack these stations and loot all arms and ammunition. A fortified police station with a minimum strength of 40 police personnel and modern communication tools will not be an easy target for Maoists. Now the State police are also giving modern arms to its forces… It is feared that Maoists can target these stations, hence we are pushing for early completion of the project,” the official added.
Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while addressing the State police chiefs recently, had pointed out that left-wing extremists were gradually increasing their numbers and enhancing their military potential. “Maoist presence is getting more consolidated… Nearly 80 per cent of Maoist violence is now taking place in less than 30 districts, and many of these are close to the inter-State boundaries. They are becoming more lethal in their attacks… We are focusing more on strengthening and augmenting capabilities of our security forces,” the official added.