Mamata announces sops for Maoist-hit zone (Lead)

July 12th, 2011 - 9:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Nayagram/Jhargram (West Bengal), July 12 (IANS) Promising jobs and development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday announced an economic package for the Maoist-affected districts and asserted that violence will not be tolerated.

On her first visit to rebel-affected districts after assuming office, Banerjee held two meetings at Nayagram and Jhargram - both in West Midnapore district - laying stress on education and employment.

Jhargram is about 170 km and Nayagram about 166 km west of state capital Kolkata.

In a novel step, Banerjee announced that rice at Rs.2 a kg will be distributed to the people from police stations and Block Development Offices till a proper infrastructure was built for their distribution. People with annual income of Rs.42,000 or less would come under the scheme. Without naming the Maoists, she declared that those who wanted to rejoin the mainstream of society by giving up arms would be given special rehabilitation packages.

“The government has prepared many Junglemahal (Maoist-affected forested stretches of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts) centric projects. The area because of violence has not seen development. But things are to change now,” said Banerjee, while addressing a rally here in West Midnapore district.

Urging people to shun violence, the chief minister said: “For development, peace is necessary.”

“Many people have picked up guns but if you want to pick up a gun it should be for the country and the people. I announce that 10,000 people from the area will be given jobs in national volunteer force (NVF), home guards and police. You have to apply within three months.”

“I want you people to take up arms for your country and government not for any private purpose,” she said.

“We will not tolerate any violence in this area. The police will be your friend. The joint forces won’t do any harm. If somebody wants to give up arms we have special rehabilitation package for him. Friends come back to the mainstream,” said Banerjee.

For development of the Santhali language which is predominant in the area, Banerjee announced that 900 schools will be established where the language will be taught. She also said that 1,800 teachers from the area will be appointed in these schools.

An international standard tourism centre would be set up covering the Jhargram-Nayagram-Gopiballabhpur belt while the government would buy Kendu leaves from those who procure them from the jungle and ensure they get fair price.

Announcing the setting up of three colleges in Nayagram, Salboni and Gopiballabhpur - all in West Midnapore - Banerjee said: “For development, education is a must. I have talked to the education minister before coming here and said I need these three colleges. They will come up soon.”

Special training centres will be set up to provide vocational training to the youths to help them get jobs. Training for auxiliary nurse and midwife and general nursing and midwifery courses will also be given.

Banerjee said with the help of the employment bank, the youths in Junglemahal will no longer be unemployed.

The projects on the education front announced by her include promoting 235 schools to the level of higher secondary and industrial and polytechnic schools in Binpur. Social, cultural and sports academies will also be set up, said the chief minister.

Banerjee said for developing medical infrastructure, Rs.125 crore will be spent in Junglemahal. Of this, Rs.85 crore will be spent in the current year for setting up and developing health centres.

She informed that the government will spend Rs.112 crore on potable water.

Banerjee also said that girl students from Class 9 to 12 would be given bicycles free of cost within three months.

She announced plans to increase the base of old age pensioners to 75,000 from the current 8,000.

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