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Bhubaneswar: Union Home minister Rajnath Singh today assured all possible assistance to Odisha and three other eastern States – West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand – for enhancing internal security, and emphasised the need for better coordination between state and central agencies to combat Maoists.

"Security is the first priority of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and we will provide all possible assistance to the states for it. The additional forces they require to combat naxalism will be provided. There is a need for better coordination between state and central agencies towards this purpose," Singh said.

The Union Home minister was speaking at the 21st Eastern Zonal Council (EZC) meeting at Patna in presence of Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and representatives of Odisha and West Bengal here.

Apart from naxalism, the meet also took up issues related to the modernisation of police, border disputes, road connectivity, railway projects, water management, flood control measures, food problems, rural housing, and central allocation of resources for developmental activities.

"The Centre will consider the fund requirements for modernisation of state police forces on the basis of merit.
We will also consider the demand for deployment of additional central forces in the Naxal-dominated 'Red Zone' areas of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha," Singh added.

The EZC met after a gap of around two years and reviewed the progress of the implementation of the recommendations made at its last meeting at Kolkata in 2013. The Council also took up issues related to release of water by West Bengal for Upper Mahananda irrigation project in Bihar.

Allocation of additional rice to the four member states to tide over food security issues, countering malnutrition among women and children, export promotion, implementation of India Strengthening Project (ISSP), as well as, Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI) were also discussed at the EZC meet.

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