The Naxal-affected districts of Gadchiroli and Gondiya in Maharashtra might soon see fast-track development. The two districts will soon get a special development authority to curb the red tapism and thereby expedite development, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced in the Assembly on Monday. The proposed authority, to be formed on the lines of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, is expected to have statutory powers and financial autonomy. The announcement comes at a time when the state government has reiterated its commitment to curb the Naxal menace both by countering their attacks and by stepping up development in the affected areas. So far this year, 23 Naxals have been killed and 27 Naxals have surrendered to the security agencies. Currently, the Budgetary allocation to these districts is Rs 300 crore. Maharashtra home minister R R Patil told Business Standard: “I have been of the firm opinion that application of same norms and rules in Naxal areas is a big problem in giving a push to the development process. Norms need to be relaxed in Naxal areas.
The special development authority will substantially reduce the time taken for approval of projects and its completion and also getting the necessary financial provision from the state government. The authority will be able to take all the necessary decisions at its level and thereby increase the pace of development in Gadchiroli and Gondiya districts.” Patil said the authority will be accountable for its own decision and delays, if any, in carrying out various projects. Congress legislator Namdev Usendi, who represents Gadchiroli Assembly constituency, said the establishment of authority will help develop 22 irrigation projects pending since 1978 in the district. Further, minor forest-based industries will come up in a big way, which is currently not possible due to the series of clearances required both at the state and Central level. “Following the formation of the authority, the development of schools, colleges, and hospitals will be possible. This currently faces a lot of problems due to the provisions of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980,” said Usendi. According to him, the proposed authority can be headed by the district guardian minister with the district collector as member secretary. Further, Congress legislator Ramratan Raut from Aamgaon Assembly constituency in Gondiya district said nearly 34 irrigation projects pending for over four decades could be taken up on a priority basis, following the formation of a special development authority. Amitabh Rajan, additional chief secretary of home department, said Monday’s announcement was a move in the right direction.