Sustained coordination between Centre, States needed to deal with Maoists: PM

     The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday called for sustained coordination between the Centre and the States to deal with the Left-wing extremism. "Over the past few years, we have met a number of times to discuss issues relating to internal security and left wing extremism. As a result, it has been possible to develop a more coordinated approach, both between the states and between the centre and the states," said Dr Singh. "Matters have improved vis-a-vis intelligence sharing, deployment of Central Para Military Forces, augmentation of state police forces, provision of funds under central schemes, etc. However, more needs to be done," he said at a meeting convened by him of Chief Ministers of Naxal-affected States of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. Dr Singh said a greater coordination and cooperation in crucial matters like intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing is required. "Each state has a different set of problems, administrative arrangements, strengths and weaknesses and, therefore, there is also a need for a state specific approach. The action plans that the states have prepared could perhaps be made more detailed keeping this in view," he said. Further talking about the development of the tribal areas, Dr Singh said these areas have lagged behind the rest of the country so far and this state of affairs needs to be changed. "Our tribal populations have traditionally depended upon the forests for their livelihoods and we must ensure that this link does not get disrupted without alternate means of livelihood being made available. Any development of tribal areas must also ensure that the tribal population has a stake in it, even after it has been adequately compensated for displacement," he added. The Prime Minister urged the Chief Ministers present in the meeting to set up a group under the Chief Secretary to evaluate the vacancy position, develop an appropriate incentive package for posting in difficult areas and thereafter ensure deployment in a time-bound manner. "On the security side, the state forces obviously will have to be further strengthened, though the position has improved in the past few years. We need more young men and women from these areas in our security forces. There is also need to improve the infrastructure in the police stations," said Dr Singh. Dr Singh also emphasized the urgent necessity for the Central and state forces to work with total coordination and without any misunderstanding about each other. The Ministry of Home Affairs asked the Chief Ministers of Naxal-affected States to set up a Unified Command with a retired Major General rank officer onboard. It was also decided in the meeting that more helicopters will be deployed for logistical support, troop movement, supplies and evacuation. The crucial meeting also approved raising of 34 new battalions of India Reserve Battalion for combating the Maoist menace. It also cleared other proposals related to induction of more Special Police Officers and exclusive development schemes for the Maoist-hit states. The Government will fund the establishment and strengthening of 400 police stations in the affected districts at the rate of two crore rupees per police station. The Centre's share will be 80 percent and the States will bear 20 percent of the cost for a period of two years. Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Secretaries of about half a dozen central ministries, who deal with development, social and infrastructure sectors were also present in the meeting. Jharkhand, which is under President's Rule, was represented by its Governor, while West Bengal sent its Health Minister for the meeting.

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