Ramesh asks Odisha CM to submit dev plans for Kandha tribes

Bhubaneswar: Concerned over Maoists trying to influence the vulnerable Dongaria Kandha tribes, Union Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh on Thursday asked the Odisha government to submit development proposals for them and a plan for the ultra-hit Sunabeda forest area.

"The Dongaria Kandhas are particularly vulnerable in this area (Kalahandi/Rayagada) and are being targeted by Maoists, taking advantage of their grievances related to underdevelopment," Ramesh said in a letter dated January 13 to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

"It appears that the region bordering the Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, is progressively coming under Maoist influence … We have to make urgent developmental interventions to tackle the spread of Maoist influence in the area," Ramesh, who had toured Kalahandi and Nuapada districts here said.

The union minister proposed sanction of houses to eligible families of Dongaria Kandhas in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts under the Indira Awas Yojana.

A procurement centre for non-timber forest produce under the National Rural Livelihood Mission could be opened in Lanjigarh at the earliest, Ramesh said in the letter.

He said that these interventions could be delivered easily over the next couple of months to earn the confidence of the Dongaria Kandha community.

The long-term inaccessibility of the area, he said, has to be addressed through proposals under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

Ramesh requested the chief minister to submit proposals under IAY, NRLM and PMGSY for quick consideration and clearance.

On Maoist-hit Nuapada district Ramesh said that incidents of Maoist violence have have gone up sharply in the last few days with attacks in neighbouring districts like Kalahandi and Bolangir and suggested implementation of a special development plan along the lines of the Saranda Development Plan in Jharkhand.

Stating that he had instructed district officials of Nuapada to prepare a draft plan for the Sunabeda forest area, he said that he would visit it again on February 15.

"I request you to direct the officials concerned to focus on this Sunabeda plan preparation. I assure you that my Ministry will extend all support for the initiative," Ramesh said.