New Delhi [India], September 26 (ANI): Odisha has sustained its efforts to curb Left Wing Extremists (LWE) activities and has registered substantial success, said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday.
His remarks came at a review meeting on 'Left-Wing Extremism' in New Delhi today, which was presided over by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The Chief Minister expressed gratitude to Shah and said, "I would like to thank the Union Home Minister for convening this meeting on left-wing extremism which still is a critical internal security challenge for the nation. Over the last two years, we have been fighting another battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even during these testing times, Odisha sustained its efforts to curb LWE activities and had substantial success as well."
He further emphasised that left-wing extremism has been reduced to only three districts in the state.
"From 70 per cent of the districts affected during the peak, now we have hardly parts of three districts affected by LWE. In our experience in handling LWE, one important learning point is that accessibility and economic prosperity is the biggest anti-LWE measure we should aim for and these have to be done in scale," Patnaik said.
In his address, he also urged the Centre to consider some of his proposals which he says will have a 'huge impact'.
"One of the first suggestions was the four-laning of road NH 326 from Jeypore to Motu via Malkangiri up to Bhadrachalam. This will provide a parallel road for traffic from eastern India and Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand states to the South especially Bangalore and Hyderabad. This corridor in addition to reducing the travelling time substantially will also provide huge economic impetus to this region," he added
According to him, LWE affected districts are not part of the Railway network.
He said, "Railway Ministry and Odisha Government are already constructing two-legs - from Jeypore to Nabarangpur and Jeypore to Malkangiri -- through cost-sharing. The missing part between Malkangiri to Bhadrachalam of length 153 km and Nabarangpur to Junagarh of length 118 km can provide a very viable alternative path to the trunk routes of the railway."
He stressed that this will have a huge impact on the economic growth of these areas.
Providing mobile connectivity to areas of southern and western Odisha was another one of Patnaik's suggestions.
"There are 6,278 villages in Odisha without any mobile access or connectivity, the largest number in the country. We thank the Union Home Ministry for sanctioning 488 mobile towers for Odisha recently. But to provide coverage to other uncovered villages, an estimated 2,000 more mobile base stations will be required," he said.
Patnaik added, "It is also pertinent that most of the interiors depend on mobile connectivity and mobile internet for banking, education and delivery of all government services. Today, the basic need, therefore, is of 4-G mobile base stations at all places. It is, therefore, required to upgrade the 2-G base stations also, erected earlier."
Odisha has not been successful in creating banking facilities in these areas, he noted.
Thus, he suggested that State Government will provide land, buildings etc for setting up bank branches free of cost. "I would urge the Union Government to take expeditious steps to set up banks within a specific time frame of one year or so. Banking correspondent cannot be a replacement for banks in LWE areas," he appealed.
The Chief Minister also said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) should do a study on how many children from these LWE affected areas across the country are getting into national level exams like NEET, IIT JEE etc. "If our systems continue to bypass these areas, it is not going to help the cause of people of LWE affected areas," he added.
In his concluding remarks, he reiterated his government's commitment to continue their proactive security strategy combined with sustained and holistic development of tribal areas to address the issue of left-wing extremism. (ANI)