HALF-BAKED IDEAS AND EMPTY PROM­ISES

Nine months aer the Saranda De­vel­op­ment Plan to counter the Maoists was an­nounced, vil­lagers in the ‘lib­er­ated zone’ are yet to see its trickle-down ef­fect, re­ports

Tehelka - - JHARKHAND - SOUMIK MUKHER­JEE

WHEN­EVER THE vil­lagers of Saranda hear the word ‘ac­tion’, it brings back grisly mem­o­ries: the sud­den ap­pear­ance of heav­il­yarmed para­mil­i­tary troop­ers, de­stroyed houses and slain fam­ily mem­bers. That’s what Gan­garam Munda, 45, re­mem­bers of a month-long CRPF op­er­a­tion last Septem­ber to purge Maoists from the re­gion in the min­eral-rich West Singhb­hum district of Jhark­hand.

In a bid to bring de­vel­op­ment to the re­gion, which was con­sid­ered an im­pen­e­tra­ble bas­tion of the Maoists un­til last year’s Op­er­a­tion Ana­conda, Union Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Jairam Ramesh an­nounced the Saranda Ac­tion Plan last Oc­to­ber. It was a 264 crore project aimed at build­ing roads and houses for trib­als in this 800 sq km patch of dense ev­er­green for­est. How­ever, some vil­lagers be­lieve that the real ben­e­fi­ciary of the plan will be min­ing com­pa­nies who have been drool­ing over the area’s min­eral riches.

Gan­garam Munda, whose age­ing par­ents were killed in the CRPF op­er­a­tion last Septem­ber, and many of his neigh­bours in Thalkobad vil­lage will at­test to the fact that Saranda Ac­tion Plan was re­named Saranda De­vel­op­ment Plan af­ter their con­cerns about us­ing the word ‘ac­tion’. Re­gard­less, nine months later, the only work that has hap­pened here in­di­cates more ‘ac­tion’ and hardly any de­vel­op­ment.

“We were sup­posed to build 6,000 houses for BPL (Be­low-Poverty Line) fam­i­lies un­der the Indira Aawas Yo­jana, but there are only around 2,500 or so fam­i­lies who have BPL cards. So tech­ni­cally, it’s im­pos­si­ble to spend all that money only on build­ing houses,” says SR Natesh, Divi­sional For­est Of­fi­cer ( DFO) of Chaibasa, who

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