Monday, July 06, 2009

Govt accepts tribal truths: Armed action futile without road, water

Admitting that little development has been undertaken so far in tribal areas of Bengal, state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said without development, the police operations in Lalgarh are meaningless.

He visited Lalgarh and adjoining areas on Sunday to oversee development work and the police operations.

Sen arrived at 10 am, held meetings at Lalgarh police station, Binpur BDO office and later at the circuit house in Midnapore town.

“The operation will continue in Lalgrah, but without development this will not be successful. Lalgarh is far safer than before but it will take some time before normalcy returns,” he said outside the Lalgarh police station after holding a meeting with the district administration and top police officers.

The Central forces will stay in Lalgarh and participate in the ongoing operation this month, but the state government is considering extending their stay, he added. At present, 17 companies of Central forces and 26 companies from state are stationed in Lalgrah and adjoining areas.

“We have information that tribal leader Chattradhar Mahato is in the area and we have asked the police to arrest him,” he added.

Later, at the circuit house in Midnapore town, he told mediapersons: “Development is our priority. We are providing ration cards, drinking water, opening up schools and developing healthcare infrastructure on an emergency basis. We are stressing on income generation schemes for people in the area including work for 100 days.”

A number of schemes have been sanctioned for Lalgarh, Belpahari and Binpur areas. Later, Jhargram and other tribal-dominated areas in Purulia and Bankura will be developed, Sen added.

The state government has stepped up efforts to provide ration cards to villagers of Lalgarh, cutting down the processing time from a month to three days. Three drinking water projects have been initiated by the state government in Lalgarh. The administration is also opening up schools and shifting the camps of security forces.

The police, meanwhile, combed various areas of Lalgarh to flush out Maoist squads on Sunday.

“Our operation will continue as Maoists are still active in villages and forests,” said DIG, Midnapore Range, Praveen Kumar.

The security forces also found the body of an unidentified person in Sankhabhanga village in Goaltore.

The body has been sent for the postmortem.

At the Writers’ Buildings, Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti said the first batch of six officers sent to Lalgarh will return on Sunday and the next team will visit the area tomorrow.

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