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PMRDF programme for Maoist-affected districts launched

Andhra Pardesh,Terrorism, Sat, 07 Apr 2012 IANS

Hyderabad, April 7 (IANS) Prime Minister's Rural Development Fellows (PMRDF) programme was formally launched here Saturday with the induction of 156 fellows, who will work in 78 Maoist-affected districts in nine states.


The young post-graduate fellows began their nine-week long training programme at Andhra Pradesh Academy of Rural Development here with Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and central ministers Jairam Ramesh and V. Kishore Chandra Deo interacting with them on the first day.


The fellows, who were selected through a competitive application process, will work in the districts for two years as development facilitators to assist the district administration.


The fellows, who will work under the district collector concerned, will be paid Rs.65,000 each per month.


Jairam Ramesh described the programme as a learning experience under the development leg of the strategy to tackle the Maoist problem.


The fellows will interact with people, assist in better implementation of various social sector schemes, monitor and evaluate the outcomes of these schemes and create a network of voluntary cooperation in the local area.


The programme announced in September last year, will be implemented in Orissa (18 districts), Jharkhand (17), Chhattisgarh (10), Bihar (9), Madhya Pradesh (8), Andhra Pradesh (8), Uttar Pradesh (3), West Bengal (3), Maharashtra (2).


The districts also known as Integrated Action Plan (IAP) districts have common characteristics like high poverty ratio, high forest cover and low human development indicators.


Montek Singh Ahluwalia termed the extremist problem a major threat to development and called for a holistic approach to deal with it.


He lamented that while many programmes and schemes were announced for the development of tribal and backward areas, they were not being implemented properly.


Ahluwalia said the future of the programme and the shape it would take during the last four years of the 12th plan would be decided this year.


Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh called for a three-pronged strategy to tackle the Maoist problem. He said political and development approaches were required in addition to the security operations, but in most of the affected states only security operations were getting priority.


Ramesh told the fellows that it would be "an enormously frustrating experience" for them as the area was very difficult to work in and in some areas like Narayanpur district in Chhattisgarh, even the government is not functioning. "Some collectors may not cooperate with you but you to have to find your own way," he said.


"I know there will be a natural 20 percent attrition after learning about the problems in these areas during the training programme," he said


Minister for Tribal Development Kishore Chandra Deo called for extending the programme to all areas of the sixth schedule of the Constitution, North East and Kashmir. He called for effective implementation of the existing schemes for the protection of tribal and forest dwellers.


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