Chhattisgarh government has proposed a new plan to the Centre for providing connectivity to Left-Wing Extremism-affected areas in the state, where critical road projects have often been brought to a standstill due to security reasons. The plan suggested dividing the remaining contracts into small packets so that local contractors can take up the jobs.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel presented the proposal when he met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari last month.
The State has pointed out that not only will this accelerate the development of the region but would also help in the accomplishment of the remaining portions of the Centre’s Road Requirement Plan for extremism-affected areas. The progress of the plan has been held up mainly in Chhattisgarh.
“We have proposed to the Centre to break up the contracts into small portions so that local contractors can take up the jobs. When local people take up the contracts, they are in a better position to get the work done. I told this to Gadkariji and the Home Minister, who asked me to send a detailed proposal on this, which we are doing,” Mr Baghel said on Wednesday at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express.
The Centre’s 5422-km Road Requirement Plan designed for building connectivity in hotspots of 34 worst affected districts by Maoist insurgency in eight states stands ninety-nine per cent completed. However, the progress has often faced impediments in Chhattisgarh with the widening and strengthening of roads, and construction of bridges.
Chhattisgarh accounts for 360 km of over 419 km of unfinished roads across four states. It was stated in an inter-ministerial review in October, that the remaining 360 km of roadworks in Chhattisgarh are in state roads of the Bastar region.
The ministries of Road Transport and Highways and Home have flagged the need to complete some of the expanses in the state that is necessary for the movement of security forces. Meanwhile, in Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, less than 10 km of the plan remains to be completed, with 41 km left in Jharkhand.
Mr Baghel said, “The meeting was positive. It will not be correct to say that Chhattisgarh is not cooperating with the Centre in this. However, during the UPA government, financial assistance for these projects was much larger than in the NDA government.”
The Indian Express quoted a senior official of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways saying, “There are around 21 spots where police camps are needed for the works to happen. The state has been asked to provide a plan for them.”
Some sources have said that the progress in the state has suffered from Maoists threatening contractors, engineers and labourers, even damaging construction equipment regularly.