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Many children have not seen the Tricolour, only Lal Salam and black flags: Sukma district magistrate

Publication: The Economic Times
Date: April 30, 2017
URL:   http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/interviews/many-children-have-not-seen-the-tricolour-only-lal-salam-and-black-flags-sukma-district-magistrate/articleshow/58436699.cms

Edited excerpts from an interview with Niraj Kumar Bansod, district magistrate, Sukma:

On Naxals’ opposition to road construction

 Naxals have always obstructed road construction activities by planting pressure bombs and IEDs. In Sukma district, Naxals fear their strongholds will vanish if roads to those areas are completed. The forces will then be able to operate in the interiors. Now there are obstructions even on National Highway 30 (the one that passes through Sukma and enters Telangana). Naxals don’t want roads because they know the administration will reach many more areas and common people will get government benefits. They somehow want to stop our anganwadi workers, health workers and teachers from going to the villages where they have strongholds.

On the district administration’s reach

 There are 146 gram panchayats in Sukma district. Functioning in 80 of 146 panchayats is not a big challenge. I am not saying there’s no risk, but it’s relatively easier there. In the remaining 66 gram panchayats, the administration faces massive challenges from the Naxals. As far as work under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) is concerned, we have succeeded in expanding our base. In 2015, we implemented MNREGA in 102 gram panchayats, and in the following year we increased it to 123. The district administration is going to areas where security camps are established. We now have security camps deep in the interior places. They are manned both by the CRPF and Chhattisgarh Police. Earlier, we did not have a security camp in Bhejji. Once it was set up recently, the district administration followed. Now, people in the area get the benefits of government schemes.

On long-term strategies

  Giving a good education to the future generation is a way forward. Naxals destroyed 124 schools in Sukma district alone, mostly between 2004 and 2009. Reconstruction activities were undertaken in 36 schools, of which 17 became fully functional again. Then we constructed an Education City in Sukma where we accommodate about 5,000 children. Everything from food to stay is free. About 300 children directly impacted by Naxal violence also reside there. Many of them did not have any idea about the Tricolour; they had not seen it earlier. They only knew Lal Salam and black flags.
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