The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government (NDA) is set to reduce the number of Maoist-affected districts by about a fifth.

A senior Home Ministry official told that approximately 20 of the 106 districts which have been described as being Maoist-affected and are part of the Red Corridor may soon no longer be part of the list. This exercise, under way now for two years, is being done for the first time since 2006, when the Maoist-affected districts were identified and graded on the basis of their violence profile.

The names of the districts and the reasons for being considered to be taken off the list have been communicated to the States and a response is awaited. The names are not being revealed because of the sensitivities of the States which fear that once a district is taken off the list financial aid which is made available to the districts – to the tune of Rs. 30 crore annually for various developmental work – will dry up.

Spanning 10 States

The 106 districts which span 10 States — Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — are described as those affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) and constitute the ‘Red Corridor.’

Of these, 44 districts are said to be the worst-affected. India has a total of 683 districts.

The considerations on which the government has examined the districts with LWE features are: their violence profile, an assessment of the kind of logistical and other support provided to armed Maoist cadres by their sympathisers and “over ground workers”, and the kind of positive changes brought about by development work that these districts have seen.

The Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) has already given the go-ahead for an ambitious road project in the 44 worst-affected districts.

Under this project, the government proposes to construct 5412 km road length and 126 bridges and it would cost Rs. 11,725 crore.

Under this project, the government proposes to construct 5412 km road length and 126 bridges and it would cost Rs. 11,725 crore.

For instance, for the last four years in Bankura, West Midnapore, Purulia and Birbhum districts of West Bengal there has been no reported incident of Maoist-related activities. Even so, a senior government official pointed out, two battalions of central armed police (roughly 1,000 men comprise a battalion) continue to be deployed there as West Bengal has staunchly opposed the withdrawal of forces. The implication: they could be better deployed elsewhere.

“The 20 districts we have zeroed in on span 142 police stations,” another official explains. “If you look at the Maoist-affected area, police station wise, the total number comes to 762. Since the NDA government came to power, 14 additional battalions of Central forces have been sent to these areas. In other words, there are in all 104 battalions deployed” (in LWE-affected districts).

The year 2015 saw the lowest Maoist violence in six years with 1,088 incidents and 226 deaths being reported as compared to 2,213 incidents in which as many as 1,005 people lost their lives in 2010.

This year, though, the number of Maoist-related incidents has seen a spike with 605 incidents and 161 deaths reported till June 30 as compared to the 592 incidents and 120 deaths during the same period last year.

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