In a bid to speed up development in naxal-affected areas, the environment ministry has decided to exempt public infrastructure projects from seeking forest clearance in 35 additional districts.

Union minister for rural development JairamRamesh on Sunday said the Centre would spend Rs 145 crore on development of rural roads in the state.

In a bid to curb misreporting by states, the ministry of rural development on Monday approved changes to guidelines of the Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) that allow flexibility to the states in identify

Chhattisgarh Governor Shekhar Dutt has sought details from the State government on the declining population trends in six Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected districts of Koriya, Dakshin Bastar, Dantewada, Bijapur, Sukma, Jashpur and Kanker as reflected in the Provisional Census 2011 figures.

The State government says while it would wait for a more detailed analysis of the final Census reports when published by the Registrar General of India, it is not averse to an independent population survey in these districts.

Kalahandi: The Centre would 'fight' Naxalites through welfare and empowerment schemes and protect the tribals from being used as shields by the ultras, Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday.

"In the name of protecting forest dwellers, Maoists have created an atmosphere of fear (in society). Our fight against the rebels is continuing. Through schemes for tribal welfare and women empowerment, with a strong political willpower, we will defeat their designs," he told a meeting of Adivasi Adhikar Samavesa at Narla in Odisha's Kalahandi district.

In a bid to improve road connectivity in remote villages located in Naxal-affected areas and bordering districts, the Cabinet on Thursday approved a special provision of R38,500 crore under Pradan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to be allocated during the 12th plan period (20012-17).

Besides, the Union Cabinet also approved tweaking of PMGSY guidelines, where habitations with a population of 100 and above in the 82 Naxal-affected tribal districts would get roads under PMGSY. At present, the PMGSY covers habitations with a population of 250 persons and above in Naxal-hit tribal districts. More than 13,000 villages are expected to be covered under this special PMGSY allocation.

Overall scheme likely to see Rs 10,000-cr cut in the coming Budget proposals

The Cabinet today approved a Rs 38,500-crore allocation over five years for some projects under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The overall scheme is expected to see a Rs 10,000-crore cut in the coming Budget proposals. The scheme had an annual allocation of Rs 24,000 crore till this year. There would be about Rs 7,000 crore annually for the schemes approved today. The Cabinet is also to consider next week a new version of the PMGSY, which might take the total annual spending to Rs 14,000 crore.

‘Cos, both PSUs & private, have neither operated in an environmentally sustainable manner, nor socially beneficial manner’

“Mining only leads to greater poverty,” Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of Rural Development explained to the tribals of Lanjigarh, Odisha at the foothills of the Niyamgiri hills. This is the union minister's first visit to the naxal-affected Kalahandi district, a political tinderbox, where tribal interests are ranged against big corporates. Mr Ramesh insisted his visit was part of his agenda to visit all naxal affected districts and fight extremism with increased rural development.

“Mining has only resulted in displacement of lakhs of tribal families instead of creating jobs for them”

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday urged the governments in the mineral-rich Naxal-affected States to focus on development of agriculture and implementation of rural development programmes instead of focusing on mining to create employment. Addressing a gathering of Dongaria and Kutia Kandha tribal groups on the foothills of Niyamgiri hills in this tribal-dominated block of Kalahandi district, Mr. Ramesh underlined the need for prioritising agriculture and rural development saying that mining in the country’s mineral-rich States such as Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand had only added to the people’s miseries. Mining had only resulted in displacement of lakhs of tribal families instead of proving to be beneficial for them, he added.

AnRak Aluminium is moving ahead with the bauxite mining project in Makavarapalem in Visakhapatnam district despite the local opposition warns this analysis in the Economic and Political Weekly with focus on social and environment impact of the project.