A kutcha road in Saranda
Jamshedpur, Feb. 3: From now on, road projects — a soft target of Naxalites — will be brought under the surveillance of CRPF in Saranda.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting between West Singhbhum district administration and the CRPF brass recently.
According to a source, the paramilitary personnel were being roped in to speed up construction of roads, several of which are to be laid deep inside the jungles. For this, a separate unit of the force will be commissioned.
Hitherto, the CRPF was engaged in only carrying out anti-insurgency operations in areas where road construction was on.
“As things stand now, the pace of the projects has been slow as the contractors are not able to arrange building materials on time. Workers and technicians are not reporting for duty at construction sites regularly. As a result, work is being hampered,” said a senior CRPF officer on condition of anonymity.
The officer added that workers feared that Maoists were still present in the saal reserve — believed to be purged of rebel presence after sustained offensives — in guise of villagers. The twin incidents of violence in which Maoists set 16 vehicles on fire in Saranda last November and December only reaffirmed that perception.
“They are afraid that Maoists might struck any moment. In such a scenario, CRPF personnel will now directly involve themselves in road construction work. It’s not that the personnel will extend a helping hand for construction, but will provide security cover while work is on. This apart, they will guard equipment and vehicles used in road construction work round the clock,” said the officer.
Superintendent of police (SP), West Singhbhum, Pankaj Kamboj also admitted that road projects were progressing slowly for myriad reasons, including non-availability of construction materials.
“Several factors are to be blamed. But all these problems, which include the security aspect and also availability of road construction materials, are being looked into,” said Kamboj.
The SP refused to say more, but added that Anaconda-II was being effectively carried out in Saranda and Naxalite activities had come to a halt there.
As many as 11 roads are supposed to be built in the area under the Saranda Integrated Action Plan, which was launched last January. But till now, only two roads could be completed. Work on the remaining nine is on.
The roads are being set up to provide connectivity among 24 CRPF camps that are in the process of being established in Saranda.