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Road connectivity project for LWE areas moving ‘abysmally slow’ (IANS Exclusive)

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By Rajnish Singh

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) Of the two major road connectivity projects being run in Left Wing Extremist (LWE)-affected regions of the country, the rate of progress of the recent one launched in 2016 is under criticism for its “slow” pace as it could only complete one-fifth of the sanctioned road length in over three-and-half years. With the current speed calculation, the 9,338 km project will take over 15 years in completing its goal.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has faced strong criticism over the issue by a parliamentary committee for the “abysmally slow” progress of Road Connectivity Projects in LWE affected Areas (RCPLWE)– one of the major developmental initiatives of the government in nine key Maoist-hit states covering 44 districts.

In a written note, accessed by IANS, the committee has mentioned that only 1,796 km out of 9,338 km sanctioned roads under RCPLWE project were completed in more than three-and-a-half years by the MHA.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs in the note also sought clarification from the Ministry on the project, saying “the Committee would like to know the reasons regarding abysmally slow progress in completion of these roads specially with respect to Telangana where 147 km has been completed out of 705 km and Chhattisgarh where 319 km has been completed out of 2,479 km”.

The Committee is of the view that delay in construction of roads in the most sensitive LWE areas like Telangana and Chhattisgarh is also a reason for “slowing down the inclusion and development processes of these regions and negatively affecting the capability of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) or state police in tackling the LWE menace”.

As per MHA’s July 20 last year report accessed by IANS, the RCPLWE project, approved in December 2016, envisaged construction of 5,412 km roads and 126 bridges in 44 LWE affected districts of nine states with an estimated cost of Rs 11,725 crore.

However, the MHA said, 9,338 km road length have been sanctioned under the scheme till now (by July 20 last year). “Of these, 1,796 km length of roads are complete.”

The Ministry said that 558 km road out of 705 sanctioned length in Telangana, and 2,160 km road out of 2,479 km length in Chhattisgarh is yet to be completed.

Improvement of road connectivity has been one of the major developmental initiatives on the MHA in LWE affected areas for eradication of insurgencies from the country.

Road Requirement Plan (RRP-I) and RCPLWE are two major schemes for improvement of road network in the LWE-affected areas.

The RRP-I scheme is under implementation since February 26, 2009 for improving road connectivity in 34 LWE affected districts of eight states — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. The scheme envisages construction of 5,422 km roads with an estimated cost of Rs 8,585 crore. Of these 4,902 km roads have been completed.

As per the latest information, a total of 90 districts in 11 states are affected with the Maoists, and the government has implemented several schemes for complete eradication of the menace from the country.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)

–IANS

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