Maoists area of influence drastically reduced: Ahir

"Have a look at their geographical area in 2014, and the area of Maoist influence now," Ahir told DH in an interview. (File Photo)

The area of influence of Naxalites has reduced drastically in the last five years following a massive crackdown on Maoists coupled with development initiatives,  union minister of state for home Hansraj Ahir said. 

"Have a look at their geographical area in 2014, and the area of Maoist influence now," Ahir told DH in an interview.

Ahir,  a four-time MP is contesting the Chandrapur Lok Sabha seat in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra - and is taking on Shiv Sainik-turned-Congressman Suresh alias Balu Dhanorkar.

According to Ahir, the Narendra Modi-government has managed to combat Left-wing extremism and the cadres and masterminds of the CPI (Maoists) are on the run.

"As part of a national policy and action plan,  the Centre in association with the government of Naxal-affected states had started various initiatives like the development of roads,  installation of mobile towers, the launch of skill development initiatives, starting of irrigation facilities among other things," Ahir said.

Referring to last April encounter in neighbouring Gadchiroli district,  in which at least 40 Naxals were killed,  he said that whenever needed the forces have "acted strongly" and will continue to do so.

He said that security infrastructure has been upgraded and cameras and drones too have been deployed besides upgradation of weaponry.

Aher said that 90 districts in 11 states were affected by LWE,  but there has been shrinkage of geographical spread. "People are joining the mainstream, a lot of Maoists have surrendered," he said.

He that road infrastructure development is a major issue that the government is addressing.

The Road Requirement Plan-I (RRP-I) envisages construction of 5,422 kilometres of roads at an estimated cost of Rs 8,593 crore. The scheme includes 454 km roads and 2 critical bridges at Indravati and Godavari rivers in Maharashtra, of which 412 km and 1 bridge on the Godavari river has been completed.  

Road Connectivity Project for LWE areas (RRP-II) envisages construction of other district roads and village roads at an estimated cost of Rs 11,275 crore including 132 kilometres of roads in Maharashtra worth Rs 270 crore. 

Ahir said that banking facilities have been enhanced in Naxalite areas so that people can avail government schemes.

According to him,  the Centre has approved Special Central Assistance (SCA) Scheme for the most LWE affected districts, under which funds are provided to States for filling the critical gaps in public infrastructure and services which are of urgent nature. "So far Rs 775 crore has been released to the states," he said.

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