The Maharashtra government has got the backing of the Central government for iron ore mining and promoting steel industries in the mineral rich Naxalite belt of Gadchiroli. This follows a meeting between Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday in Delhi.
The projects entailing a substantial capital expenditure would be undertaken through private and public partnership. Fadnavis told The Indian Express, “Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh responded positively and assured all help from the centre to take the mining project of the state government to the Naxal belt.” Fadnavis had sought help to scale up central forces in the district to create a conducive ambience for industrial and mining operations.
According to Fadnavis, the potential of the mineral rich belt is untapped because of Naxal activities. The advent of private companies, coupled with collaboration by the state, could help in its transformation into a socio-economically prosperous region of the state, he said.
The Centre agreed to the chief minister’s request for deployment of additional central forces for improving security and installation of hi-tech communication towers for effective connectivity with the rest of Maharashtra.
During the meeting with Singh, the chief minister discussed a two-pronged strategy to tackle Naxalism. In a paradigm shift, Fadnavis emphasised industrialisation to enhance income in villages still reeling under poverty saying that lack of industries had led to higher unemployment levels and poverty. The mining industries, he cautioned, should not invite any backlash from villagers.
“We will make processing units compulsory. It would generate employment avenues for locals. We are setting up institutions for skill development to facilitate their employment in the mining, mineral and steel industries and allied services,” Fadnavis said.
A detailed roadmap, complete with installation of communication towers and upgrading of infrastructure for better connectivity was provided during the meeting.
“The development of Gadchiroli would require a wholistic and inclusive approach. We cannot address the problems by emphasising on any single aspect. Unfortunately, the last six decades saw the government emphasising on security aspects alone. Whereas, the bigger concerns should have been addressed alongside for economic growth.”
In 2004, the Congress-NCP government had rolled out a comprehensive Rs 1,000 crore infrastructure plan for Gadchiroli, which did not take off.
Fadnavis has said that the state government has set aside Rs 2,000 crore only for roads in Gadchiroli.
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