Jairam Ramesh and Tarun Gogoi at a workshop in Guwahati on Saturday. (PTI)
Guwahati, Dec. 1: Happy hunting grounds of Ulfa for decades, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts may now find themselves on the official Left-wing extremism-affected areas map of the country.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said today that he had moved a proposal to the Planning Commission to include Dibrugarh and Tinsukia as districts affected by Left-wing extremism (LWE). Ramesh was in Assam today to review the road projects under Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) scheme.
“I had personally visited both the districts and there was information of Maoist activities. I have informed the Prime Minister after my visit and my suggestion was to declare both these as Left-wing extremism-affected districts,” Ramesh said at a news conference here today.
The review meeting of PMGSY roads was attended by chief minister Tarun Gogoi and PWD minister Ajanta Neog.
Ramesh said the Planning Commission is expected to make a formal announcement soon. He said there are 82 LWE-affected districts in the country and each district gets Rs 30 crore for development.
He said the remoteness of Tinsukia (especially the Sadiya area) and poor infrastructure had allowed Maoist and Ulfa cadres to set up sanctuaries in the area. Ramesh who visited Tinsukia in September had then said that of 86 gram panchayats (GPs), 60 were affected by Left-wing extremism while in Dibrugarh district out of the 93 GPs, 40 were affected.
“We will be extending special PMGSY norms to Tinsukia and Dibrugarh once these are declared as LWE affected districts,” he said.
Former Union home minister P. Chidambaram has already confirmed Maoist presence in Assam. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has taken up the matter of financial package with Chidambaram and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the districts hit by Maoist activities.
Gogoi mentioned the growing Maoist activities in Assam to Prime Minister, particularly in the Upper Assam districts because of the strategic location, requesting Singh to include some of the districts under the Integrated Action Plan.
On the roads front, the minister stated that villages in Assam with a population of 250 would get road connectivity which is now applicable to the hilly states. At present, habitations in Assam with a population of 500 get road connectivity.
The Union cabinet has recently paved the way for providing road connectivity to habitations with a population of 250 persons.
“I have been directed by the Union cabinet to change the criteria for Assam with habitations with a population of 250” he said.
“This will benefit 3,000 habitations in Assam and will help to add 2,500km,” he said, adding that this would benefit areas in the hill districts of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao. He said 13,000 km of roads have been made in Assam under PMGSY project and sanctions for 4,500 km of roads will come by next year. “We will have to look for newer and innovative ways of accelerating road development in the state as the working season is limited because of floods,” Ramesh said.