In a bid to nix Left-Wing Extremism (LWE), the Union government proposes to employ soft power, too.
On Wednesday, the Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, signed off on a new Rs11,700 crore rural roads project, which will cover the 35 districts that account for 90% of LWE violence.
An official statement issued after the meeting said that over 5,400km of roads and 126 bridges will be built under the “Road Connectivity Project for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) Affected Areas” programme. Rural road and bridge projects will also be taken up in nine districts adjoining the worst affected ones from a security point of view.
The scheme revives direct Central funding of state road projects in areas affected by Naxalism after the earlier programme was transferred to states when their share in the divisible pool of Central taxes was increased from 32% to 42% as suggested by the 14th Finance Commission.
As per official estimates, 106 districts across 10 states—Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Telanganga, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh—are affected by Naxalism, or LWE.
The projects to be taken up under the scheme include village roads, major district roads and bridges up to a span of 100 metres. National and state highways are not part of the project. The scheme will be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), a rural road connectivity scheme.