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Oj Corner
Special column
by OJ George

Cheque facility won't be withdrawn, says the govt
It is a matter of relief that the Union Government has clarified that cheque facility won't be withdrawn.

There were stray reports that an overenthusiastic government favaouring total digitalisation may go in for banning the cheque books.

It is gratifying to note that the government won't proceed with the reforms this way.
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Home Ministry says Maoist violence had inflcted 12,000 deaths
As many as 12,000 people have lost their lives in Maoist violence over the last two decades and of these, 2,700 were personnel of security forces.

According to a statistics prepared by the home ministry, those killed include 9,300 innocent civilians who were either killed by the Naxals, labelling them as 'police informers', or were victims in crossfire.

However, the violence perpetrated by the Naxals has declined by 25 per cent in last three years, notwithstanding occasional reverses suffered by the security forces.

There has been a decline of 25 per cent in left wing extremism-related violence and casualties to security forces dropped by as much as 42 per cent during May 2014-April 2017 as compared to May 2011-April 2014, a home ministry official said.

The April 24 assault on a CRPF road opening party that claimed lives of 25 personnel was the deadliest since the April 2010 attack in Dantewada, also in Chhattisgarh, in which 76 personnel were killed.

The elimination of Naxal cadres rose by a sharp 65% and the surrenders by the extremists recorded 185% increase, the official said.

The home ministry officials said currently 90% of Maoist activities were limited to 35 districts, though they have a hold over pockets in 68 districts in 10 states.

To tackle the menace of left wing extremism, the central government has launched the 'National Policy and Action Plan' comprising of security, development and ensuring rights and entitlements of the local communities.

Under this plan, as many as 307 fortified police stations were constructed in Naxal-hit areas in last three years.

Besides, 1,391 km roads were constructed in some of the most difficult areas under the road requirement plan phase-I. A total of 5,412 km of additional roads were approved for construction in nine Naxal-hit areas at a cost of Rs 11,725 crore.

While 2,187 mobile towers were installed for improving telephone connectivity in remote areas, 2,882 more are in the process of installation.

Altogether 358 new banks were opened, 752 ATMs were installed and 1,789 post offices were approved for opening in these Maoist affected states as part of the government's plans to improve financial inclusion in 35 worst hit districts.

The home ministry has already approached the finance ministry for additional funds for extension of several development schemes which were executed in Naxal-hit states.

The security related expenditure (SRE) scheme, special infrastructure scheme (SIS), integrated action plan (IAP) and a few other schemes will be extended for a few more years if the finance ministry's approval is received, the official said.
Under the SRE scheme, funds are provided for meeting the recurring expenditure relating to insurance, training and operational needs of the security forces, rehabilitation of left wing extremist cadres who surrender in accordance with the surrender and rehabilitation policy, security related infrastructure for village defence committees.

The SIS in left wing extremism affected states was commenced in 11th five-year plan (2008-09 to 2011-12) with an outlay of Rs 500 crore to cater to critical infrastructure gaps of security forces which could not be covered under any other scheme.

During the period, under the scheme, another amount of Rs 460 crore was allocated of which Rs 445.82 crore was released to the nine left wing extremism affected states for meeting the objects related to requirements of mobility of the police, security forces by upgrading existing roads/tracks in inaccessible areas, measures to enhance security in respect of police stations/outposts located in vulnerable areas.
The scheme was extended to the 12th five year plan period on April 4, 2013 with an outlay of Rs 373 crore, comprising Rs 280 crore (75 per cent) as central share and Rs 93 crore (25 per cent) as state share.
Rs 122.13 crore were released to the Naxal-hit states during 2013-14 and 2014-15 for upgradation of training infrastructure, weaponry, equipments and fill up critical infrastructure gap of special forces of the states.
The scheme has been discontinued from central assistance from 2015-16 as per recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.
The IAP or additional central assistance (ACA) for left wing extremism affected districts was commenced by the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) in 2010-11 covering 60 tribal and backward districts for accelerated development by providing public infrastructure and services.
During 2010-11, Rs 25 crore per district were provided to 60 districts which enhanced to Rs 30 crore per district per year from 2011-12. The scheme was extended to 82 districts in 2012.
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