Monday, April 19, 2010

Naxals support govt-run PDS scheme; no attacks since 2008

Press Trust Of India
Raipur, April 18, 2010
First Published: 14:45 IST(18/4/2010)
Last Updated: 14:48 IST(18/4/2010)

The much-criticised public distribution system is the only fledgling Government scheme, which seems to have escaped the 'red terror' in the dense forests of Bastar region where Naxal writ runs large.

The PDS, which faces flak in the rest of the country for its loopholes, has faced just 33 attacks in last 10 years in the districts of Bastar, Dantewada, Narayanpur and Bijapur with none since 2008 and maximum of 25 during the year 2002.
In Chhattisgarh, which remains the hotbed of Naxals in the country, any other government scheme has failed to break into the Naxal stronghold as schools, panchayats, hospitals, bridges, roads are being blown up by left wing extremists, a senior district administration official in Bastar said.

The scheme has managed to alleviate the sufferings of the people in the far-flung districts as it provided 35 kilograms of rice at Re 1 to each member (maximum of four members) of below poverty line families of this region.

Chief Secretary of the state P Joy Ommen told PTI that Chhattisgarh has the best PDS system in the country and deaths from hunger are bare minimum.

Police officials, however feel the scheme has been successful in the state because of the patronage of the Naxals who do not want to disturb cheap and effective supply of rations.

"They (Naxals) are attacking every move of development made in this region be it roads, schools, panchayat buildings but they do not touch the ration coming from the PDS. The reasons are simple, they manage to get away with their share of this ration from tribals which in turn helps them to sustain in jungles," a senior police official said.

There are many cases where Naxals come to tribal villages soon after PDS supply arrives and get a share of ration supplies from each home, they said.
"Moreover, Naxals do not want to disturb their support base among tribals by attacking this scheme as it is a major source of food safety among tribals," said the officials.

When asked whether they are going to take any action against Naxals who come to collect rations, a senior police official replied in negative, saying that even the police were interested in smooth flow of the scheme.

"We do not want to take any action against them getting away with rations as it will adversely affect the tribal population which is dependent on it. However, we are keeping a strict monitoring in the areas where tribal population is rare so that food supplies do not reach the left wing extremists," he said. In few cases where the food was exclusively meant for Maoists, the items had been intercepted, he said.

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