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Conduct Study on Success of Children from Naxal-hit Areas in National Exams: Patnaik to Centre

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday urged the Centre to conduct a study on how many children from Naxal-hit regions in the country succeed in national-level examinations. Patnaik made the proposal at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah with chief ministers and officials of 10 Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected states in New Delhi.

“MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) should do a study on how many children from these LWE affected areas across the country are getting into national level examinations like NEET, IIT, JEE and others,” Patnaik said at the meeting, as per his speech released here. “If our systems continue to bypass these areas, it is not going to help the cause of people of LWE affected areas,” he added.

Maintaining that Naxalism remains a critical internal security challenge for the nation, Patnaik said that even while fighting COVID, Odisha sustained its efforts to curb LWE activities with substantial success. The chief minister also put forth several other proposals, including expanding NH-326 from Jeypore to Motu via Malkangiri to four lanes.

“This will provide a parallel road for traffic from eastern India, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand states to the south especially Bengaluru and Hyderabad. This corridor in addition to reducing the traveling time substantially will also provide huge economic impetus to this region,” he said. Noting that the Naxal-hit districts are not part of the railways network, Patnaik said the Railway Ministry and the Odisha government were constructing lines from Jeypore to Nabarangpur, and Jeypore to Malkangiri through cost-sharing.

“The missing part between Malkangiri to Bhadrachalam of length 153 km and Nabarangpur to Junagarh of length 118 km can provide a very viable alternative path to the trunk routes of the railway. This will have a huge impact on economic growth of these LWE hit areas,” he said. Patnaik said there were 6,278 villages in the state’s southern and western regions without any mobile connectivity — the largest number in the country.

He urged the Centre to take expeditious steps to set up banks in these areas, for which the state government will provide land and infrastructure free of cost. The chief minister said that from 70 per cent of the state’s 30 districts being hit during the peak of Naxal activities, Odisha now hardly has parts of three districts affected by it.

“In our experience in handling the LWE, one of the important learning points is that accessibility and in turn economic prosperity is the biggest anti-LWE measure we should aim for and these have to be done in scale,” he said at the meeting. Patnaik said the Odisha government was committed to continuing with the pro-active security strategy, combined with sustained and holistic development of tribal areas to address the issue of Naxalism.

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