Naveen Patnaik announces Rs 115 cr to script turnaround of former Maoist-hotbed

A little more than two years after announcing a Rs 100 crore scheme for the development of Maoist hotbed of Swabhiman Anchala in Malkangiri district, chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday announced another Rs 115 crore package for the area. The money is for a mega piped water supply project and for more mobile towers in the area.

“Swabhiman Anchal is always in my heart and efforts will continue to make it a developed region. I had announced a Rs 100 crore special package under SETU (Socio-economic Transformation and Upliftment) in 2018. Now, it has been increased to Rs 215 crore,” said Patnaik, while exhorting the Maoists in the area to leave the path of violence and join the mainstream.

Patnaik also said each of the households in the nine gram panchayats of Swabhiman Anchala area would get a 4G-enabled smartphone that would aid students’ study-related activities. Four mobile phone towers have been installed in the Swabhiman Anchal while there are plans for another three towers with 4G network in the area.

Work on 33×11 kv electrical sub-station will be completed soon and 11 KV 3 phase line connection will be provided to all the residents. A total of Rs 100 crore will be spent for construction of concrete roads in all villages, 78 km tarred road and seven bridges in the area. A mega drinking piped water supply project at the cost of Rs 20 crore has been started while work for as many as 250 tube wells was completed. For irrigation, Rs 32 crore will be spent on 43 lift irrigation projects and 419 cluster deep bore wells. It will provide irrigation to 1700 hectares of land, said a government communiqué.

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Earlier known as the Cut-off area for its geographical isolation following the building of Balimela reservoir, the Swabhiman Anchala was essentially a cluster of around 151 villages in Malkangiri’s Chitrakonda block that had turned into a bastion of the Maoists over the last 20 years. As the deep waters of Balimela reservoir separated the area from Malkangiri district, security forces found it difficult to approach the area. The construction of a 910 m long bridge in July 2018 at Janbai village over Gurupriya river ended the isolation.

The area for long has been a theatre of violence beginning with the killing of 38 Greyhound policemen of Andhra Pradesh anti-Maoist force, who were sunk to death in the Balimela reservoir while returning after a three-day combing operation. In February 2011, erstwhile district collector of Malkangiri, R Vineel Krishna was abducted by Maoists from the Cut-off area, but released eight days later. In October 2016, at least 30 Maoists were killed in the Cut-off area in one of the biggest anti-Maoist encounters in the country. Though Maoist presence has decreased now, security forces in the area are now recovering several landmines and arms from Moaist hideouts during combing operations.

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