Thursday, April 3, 2008

Insurance for Orissa forest officials in Maoist-hit areas

Or else they run away
BHUBANESWAR: Realising that a large number of forest department officials were exposed to attacks in Maoist-affected districts, Orissa government on Wednesday decided to provide insurance cover to them in a bid to win their confidence, official sources said.

"The forest personnel in Naxalite-hit areas have in recent past been exposed to extremist attacks," an official said adding that the government realised this following February 15 Maoist mahyem at Nayagarh and the decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Sources said the red rebeles immediately after attacking Nayagarh town ran into forests for shelter. The month-long joint operation conducted by the police, CRPF, Greyhound and Special Operation Group (SOG) failed to nab a single ultra.

Patnaik, sources said, asked the government to extend insurance and other facilities to forest department officials as was being done in case of police personnel.

"The forest officials will also be entitled to the compassionate grant in case of death and injury, special pension as well as a special family pension at par with the police," an official said quoting the decision.

Besides, the government also decided to set up Special Striking Force (SSF) with adequate staff, vehicles, arms at 50 different locations in the state in order to take coordinated action against the notorious offenders.

This apart, the official said the forest officials would henceforth would be entitled to Rs 350 per month towards motor bike allowance for forest rangers, Deputy Rangers and Forester while forest guards would be given Rs 350 per month as special diet allownce.

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