Friday, April 18, 2008

Orissa government blamed for Maoist menace

Malkangiri (Orissa), April 18: An eerie silence prevailed and fear hanged over Motu and its adjacent areas when this reporter visited the area recently.

Bordering neighboring Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh on the other side of the river Saveri and situated some 100 km from the district headquarter town of Malkangiri , Motu has become a centre point for Maoist activities over the years.

The 100 km road passing thorough deep forest areas are full of potholes. In addition, river Saveri has also become a safe passage for the Maoists to escape into the neighboring Chhattisgarh after committing crime in Orissa and vice versa.

All-round development works still eludes the area and the government has to do a lot for the development of the area. During the day long visit to many bordering villages, people's resentment over the performance of the state government was clear.

Though the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is in operation in the area, tribal villagers are seen going to the neighboring Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for getting work under the same scheme there to earn their daily livelihood.

“We are getting comparatively more wages there,” told a tribal labourer to this reporter.

While many tribal villagers expressed keenness to migrate to either Chhattisgarh or Andhra Pradesh as the state government is yet to ensure their all round development like their counterparts just on the other side of Saveri.

Ironically, the people residing in the interior pockets nearer to Motu are still deprived of better road connectivity, electricity, safe drinking water and better health services.

The government is held responsible for the growing of Maoist menace in this tribal dominated Malkangiri district. “Had the state government acted in letter and spirit to find out a lasting solution to this decade long left wing movement then such a situation could have been averted easily,” remarked a government official in Motu.

Remarkably, Malkangiri is the state's worst naxal-hit district with Maoists having claimed lives of many police personnel over the years.

The construction work of roads particularly those of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) have remained stalled in the interior areas possibly because of the naxal terror, said a senior government official at Malkangiri.

While the locals hold the state government responsible for its failure to facilitate development, which they say has provoked the naxal attacks, ordinary people blame the government for failing to restore peace and ensure growth in the area.

The policemen are bearing the burnt for the state government's failure in ensuring development in the core areas dominated by the Maoists, and the government seems callous about the threat posed by the Maoists despite its tall claims and the police end up paying with their lives, a police officer observed.

Regrettably, the state government is yet to ensure proper development of the naxal infested areas like Motu, and with deplorable connectivity and lack of basic facilities the war against the left wing extremists is weakened, remarked a tribal leader at Kalimela.

“Unless food security and socio-economic development in the Maoist infested area is ensured and the construction of the Motu bridge over the river Saveri and the proposed Vijayawada-Motu-Malkangiri-Ranchi National Highway is completed, it would be a tough task on the part of the state government to get rid of the Maoist menace in the district, a senior administrative official pointed out.

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