New Delhi: At the outset, 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 Covid pandemic. However, even during this testing times, Odisha sustained its efforts to curb LWE activities and had substantial success as well.
From 70 percent of the districts affected during the peak, now we have hardly parts of three districts affected by LWE. In our experience in handling of LWE one important learning point is that accessibility and in turn economic prosperity is the biggest Anti LWE measure we should aim for and these have to be done in scale.
In this backdrop I would like the Union Government to consider the following proposals that will have a huge impact.
1. Four-laning of road NH 326 from Jeypore to Motu via Malkangiri upto Bhadrachalam. This will provide a parallel road for traffic from eastern India and Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand states to South esp Bangalore and Hyderabad. This corridor in addition to reducing the traveling time substantially will also provide huge economic impetus to this region.
2. LWE affected districts are not part of the Railway network. 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 railway. This will have huge impact on economic growth of these areas
3. Providing mobile connectivity to areas of southern and western Odisha. 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 number of mobile towers for Odisha recently. But to provide coverage to other uncovered villages, an estimated 2,000 more mobile base stations will be required. It is also pertinent that the most of 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.
4. We have not been successful in creating banking facilities in these areas. State Government will provide land, building 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.
5. 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.
I reiterate the commitment of my Government to continue with our pro-active security strategy combined with sustained and holistic development of tribal areas to address the issue of left-wing extremism.