New Delhi, June 23: Twelve of Bengal’s 19 districts — more than 60 per cent — have been picked for special attention by the Centre as part of its minority welfare mission.
A decision was taken by the Union cabinet last month to focus development efforts on 90 backward districts with minority concentration, and it was thought that two from Bengal — possibly Murshidabad and one of the Midnapores — would make the list.
Murshidabad does find itself on the list of districts with “unacceptably low levels” of either socio-economic or amenities indicators or both, as do 11 others from Bengal (see chart) and 13 from Assam, an official release revealed today.
Uttar Pradesh, at 21, has the most districts where an effort will be made to improve basic amenities and employment opportunities.
If Assam comes in second, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim together account for 17 districts.
The 2001 census data was used to pick the districts, the minority affairs ministry said. “It has been decided to prepare and implement area/problem specific special development plans,” it added.
The move is a follow-up to the Rajinder Sachar panel’s report on the plight of Muslims.
Other than the districts, 338 towns and cities with a substantial minority population have been identified where civic amenities and economic opportunities are to be improved. An inter-ministerial task force is working on this.
Another inter-ministerial group would plan and monitor implementation of a programme for skill and entrepreneurship development among Muslims and ensure smooth access to credit. “Clusters” with a substantial Muslim presence — especially of artisans — would get attention, officials said.