Jairam Ramesh, (below) Kamal Nath
New Delhi, June 14: An “urban-rural divide” seemed to unfold within the government today as rural development minister Jairam Ramesh appeared to take on his urban development counterpart Kamal Nath after the Centre included Chhindwara under the Integrated Action Plan for Maoist-affected areas.
According to the home ministry, Chhindwara, Kamal Nath’s constituency in Madhya Pradesh, is not under Maoist influence.
Ramesh said some districts not affected by the Maoist menace had been brought under the Planning Commission-managed integrated plan — which involves an yearly assistance of Rs 30 crore to plug infrastructure gaps — while others affected by rebel violence had been left out.
“I hope the Planning Commission will include districts like Sukma in the (list of) IAP districts. Some districts have been included in the IAP even though the problem is not very severe there as compared to (that of) Sukma,” he told a media conference without mentioning Chhindwara.
Sukma in Chhattisgarh is not among the IAP districts.
Sources said three other districts — Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh and West Champaran and Sitamarhi in Bihar, all of them affected by Maoists — were brought under the IAP today, taking the total number of districts under the plan to 82 in nine Maoist-affected states.
“We have innumerable requests for inclusion in the scheme even when some of districts are not Maoist-affected,” said a government source. “But the Bihar districts did merit inclusion.”
But Ramesh appeared to have made his point, too. Four new districts created in Chhattisgarh this January — Sukma, Kondagaon, Balrampur and Surajpur — were carved out of Maoist-affected Dantewada, Bastar and Sarguja districts. Yet, none of these new districts will get IAP benefits.
In the case of Chhindwara, however, the government seems to have gone out of its way to help it meet the conditions required for a district to be included in the IAP list.
The five conditions are:
A district has to be part of the security-related expenditure scheme.
Tribal population of over 25 per cent
More than 30 per cent forest cover
At least half the population below the poverty line
Should be receiving the Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), designed to redress regional imbalances in development.
To be brought under the IAP, a district needs to fulfil four of the five conditions. Chhindwara, which earlier fulfilled only three, was today brought under the BRGF.
Six of the 22 districts included under the BRGF scheme today are in Madhya Pradesh. Some of the others are in Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir.