Thursday, August 06, 2009

UP ready to dangle carrots to counter Naxal campaign

Posted: Thursday , Aug 06, 2009 at 0551 hrs

To discourage the unemployed youth of the Naxal-hit region of the state from joining the Naxal movement, the state Rural Development department is planning to promote region-specific employment generation programmes.

The Centre has asked the department to look for options under its employment generation schemes to target the problem of poverty in Naxal-hit districts like Sonebhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur of the Vindhyanchal region.

The two successful Central government programmes generating employment are Swarnjayanti Grameen Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). “We have been asked by the Centre to focus on Naxal-hit regions and create employment options. In our existing schemes, we have the option of creating enough employment,” said senior official of the department.

“We are trying to identify the best suited tasks that can be undertaken in these districts, which can generate maximum employment,” the official added.

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The Centre had recently announced that it will focus on curbing Naxalism in states like Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh by not just strengthening policing, but also providing more employment opportunities to the locals.

Since the three districts in the Vindhyanchal region happen to be in the list of the 100 poorest districts in the country, the focus on successful implementation of these schemes have become even more important.

While the Centre has agreed to provide more funds for these districts, the department already has enough funds under SGSY and NREGS to start new projects as soon as they are approved.

Of the available funds of Rs 344.68 crore under SGSY, the department has spent only 15 per cent so far. Similarly in NREGS, only 78 per cent expenditure has been incurred as yet.

The officials from the Rural Development department of all the five Naxal-hit states will soon meet senior officials from the Rural Development and Home ministries in New Delhi.

They will submit the details of the progress made in the two government schemes as well as the proposals enlisting the tasks that can be further undertaken.

The department has already started a baseline survey to collect data from the blocks like population details, number of people working as labourers, unemployment and gaps in infrastructure.

A few years ago, a similar programme to target the Naxal-hit regions was launched by the Centre. But the programme was primarily targeted at developing infrastructure in the region.

This time around, officials say, the programme aims at providing employment not just to eradicate poverty but also to stop the young from joining the Naxal movement.

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