Create a unified command for anti-Naxal operations, Chidambaram urges CMs

     Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday requested the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal to create a unified command for anti-Naxal operations. Addressing the meeting of chief ministers of Naxal-infested states called by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, Chidambaram said: "Government will sanction additional SPOs (Special Police Officers) to the states and requests the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal to create a unified command for anti-Naxal operations. "We request the four state governments to appoint an Inspector General of Police as IG (Anti-Naxal operations) for that state. The Government will also appoint an Inspector General, Central Reserve Police Force as IG (Operations) for that state to work in close coordination with the IG (anti-Naxal operations) of that state," he added. He further said that the Centre would provide more helicopters for logistic support to Naxal-infested states to help in troop movement, supplies and evacuation. Admitting the Naxals have gained an upper hand against security forces in the recent times Chidambaram said that the most serious setbacks were in Silda (West Bengal), Tarmetla, Chingawaram and Dhaudhai (all in Chhattisgarh). The anti-Naxal plan also proposes to provide more helicopters for logistics support, troop movement and supplies. He also said the Central Government acknowledges the primary role and responsibility of the State Governments in enforcing law and order and in confronting the challenge of Left Wing Extremism. "We also acknowledge the role and responsibility of the Central Government to assist the State Governments in every way - deploying central para-military forces, sharing intelligence, funding the modernization of police forces and providing logistics and other support," he added. Chidambaram also announced that the Centre was planning to roll out a development plan for the Naxal-hit areas, which are mostly mineral-rich but with poor infrastructure. "Government will set up an empowered group chaired by Member-Secretary, Planning Commission to modify existing norms/guidelines in the implementation of various development schemes having regard to the local needs and conditions in the affected districts," he added. He also advised the state governments to implement PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act strictly and vigorously and to ensure that rights over minor forest produce are assigned to the gram sabhas.

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