Lanjigarh (Odisha), Jan 14: Advocating development and livelihood projects centred around tribals to tackle Maoist menace, the Centre announced packages worth Rs 300 crore for housing and roads for vulnerable tribal groups in Odisha's backward Kalahandi district.
Unveiling the packages near the bauxite-rich Niyamgiri hill, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said Rs 200 crore would be allocated for providing houses under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) to the vulnerable tribals living in the area.
The package under the IAY would benefit 2,100 families belonging to Dangaria Kandh and other vulnerable tribal groups in the Niyamgiri area near here, he said adding it was part of the government's efforts to uplift the tribals.
Similarly, the Centre would set up a non-timber forest produce centre at Lanjigarh within six months to help the primary timber collectors get better price and save them from being exploited by the middlemen, the minister said.
As part of the drive to strengthen road links in backward areas, the Centre would provide road connectivity to villages having over 250 families in Kalahandi district at an expenditure of Rs 100 crore under Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Ramesh said.
Describing tribal-centric development as a key to contain Maoist menace, he said concerted efforts must be made to bring to the mainstream the red rebels who spread their influence in the name of welfare of tribals.
Asking all mainstream political parties to join hands to check Naxal menace, he said unless there was serious effort by political parties, Maoists would be stronger day by day.
A four-pronged modality has been worked out to contain Maoist activities, including sensitising security personnel, enhancing political activism of parties, tribal centric development, livelihood schemes and redressing injustice meted out to tribals in the past, the minister said.
Stating that no politics was involved in his visit to Kalahandi which had hogged limelight for bauxite reserve in Niyamgiri hills, he said his visit had no link to bauxite mines in the district.
Ramesh also added that tribals should not be treated as show pieces for museums, and sincere steps should be taken to ensure that the development process reaches these backward and poor sections of society.
The union minister said poverty in Odisha could be ameliorated by increasing agricultural production and not through mining operation alone.
Stating that mining should be considered as sensitive matter, Ramesh said unfortunately the track record of mining operation was neither environmentally sustainable nor socially beneficial be it in public sector or private sector.
“Mining is not essentially a boom but a curse”, he said adding for the development of people focus should be on agricultural and rural development.
During his visit, Ramesh laid the foundation stone for Rajiv Seva Kendra at Lanjigarh and a model school at Biswanathpur in the poverty-stricken district.
Besides, he also held interaction with different tribal groups including Dongria Kondhs.
At the district headquarter town of Bhawanipatna, the union minister interacted with representatives of panchayati raj institutions on a number of issues.