New Delhi: In a significant indicator of the shrinking arc of influence of Left-wing extremists, the government has removed 44 districts from the list of 126 Naxalism-hit districts while adding eight districts, including three in Kerala, as a “pre-emptive” measure. The number of worst-affected districts has also gone down from 35 to 30, with three districts in Jharkhand and two districts in Bihar no longer in the list.
The revised list of districts affected by Maoist violence and activity was approved by the Union home ministry as part of its redrawn security-related expenditure (SRE) scheme norms effective from April 1, 2018. The recategorisation of Naxal-hit districts, which was done in consultation with the affected states, took into account several parameters including violence, extent of Naxalite activity as well as movement/presence of Maoists, home ministry sources told Times of India on Sunday.
The new list of LWE-hit areas now includes 90 districts, of which only 58 had seen violence in the past year, spread across 11 states. In its earlier avatar, the SRE scheme extended to 126 districts, an outcome of redrawing of divisions across the 106 districts originally listed, and 10 states.
Under the SRE scheme, the Centre reimburses security-related expenditure incurred by the states on transportation, communication, hiring of vehicles, stipend to surrendered Maoists, construction of infrastructure for forces etc, in LWE-affected districts.
Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba was on Sunday quoted by PTI as saying that the geographical spread of the LWE violence had shrunk significantly in the last four years due to a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development-related measures.
“There is no influence or negligible presence of Left-wing extremists in 44 districts and most of the Maoist violence is confined now only to 30 worst-affected districts,” he said.
The eight newly-added districts include Malappuram, Wayanad and Palakkad in Kerala, all of which border the Maoist-infested trijunction running through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This is the first time that Kerala has been included in the list of Maoist-affected states.
The other new LWE-hit districts are Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, West Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, Kabirdham in Chattisgarh and Angul and Boudh in Odisha. A senior home ministry official said most of these districts border existing Naxal-hit districts or states, and have been included in order to pre-empt any spillover effect. “No violence was reported from the 8 new districts listed as LWE-affected. However, given that the militarily-inclined Maoists tend to shift to adjoining areas if they come under pressure in a district of their influence, a decision has been taken to pre-empt them by extending benefits of SRE to the adjoining districts as well,” said an officer.
While the 44 districts struck off the list of affected districts are spread across all 10 Naxal-hit states, five districts in Bihar and Jharkhand have managed to shed the “worst-hit” tag. These are Dumka, East Singhbhum and Ramgarh in Jharkhand and Nawada and Muzaffarpur in Bihar. Also, Bhadradri in Telangana, which was earlier part of Khammam, is now classified as a Naxal-hit district.
(Times of India)