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TATA's to invest in steel plant-township in Naxal-infested Bastar

New Delhi, May 8: Chhattisgarh's underdeveloped and tribal-dominated Bastar District is set for a major makeover with the entering of the TATA Group.

According to Ganesh Shankar Mishra, the District Collector of Bastar, the TATA's have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the State Government for a steel plant-cum-township.

About 5000 acres of land has been acquired by the TATA's for the project. The land has been acquired from 10 villages for the five million ton capacity plant.

While launching this project, TATA has taken care of affected families whose land is being acquired. Prior to providing a job to one member of the affected families, TATA's will give technical training. The State Government is also arranging bridge courses for middle and matriculate unemployed youth to get them adjusted in TATA Steel plant .

Bastar District has 655 village panchyats . Under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme ( NREGS) about 1.5 lakh employed youth will be getting jobs, Mishra said.

Commenting on Naxal activities in the area, Mishra told ANI that awareness camps have been arranged at the village level to keep locals away from the influence of Naxals.

In these camps, senior officials have been asked to redress the grievances of the people on the spot. bout the tourism potential of Bastar, Mishra said that the State Government has focused on places of pilgrimage, beautiful waterfalls like Chitterkote and the famous Bastar Dusharra Festival. He also said that adequate security would be provided to visiting tourists, adding that so far, no tourist has been attacked by Naxalites in the district.

It is pertinent to mention here that 27 panchayats of Bastar have been selected as Nirmal Gram in the panchayat awards list for 2006-07. President A P J Abdul Kalam recently presented the Nirmal Gram Award to Mishra recently.

Mishra said that the Bastar administration has followed the sanitation and development guidelines for creating Nirmal Grams, irrespective of all odds. "It was a challenge to bring change in the traditions and behavioral practices of tribals that they have followed since time immemorial," said Mishra.

"For the first time, it has happened that Naxalites did not create hurdles in the process," he added. He said that the total cleanliness campaign is a different kind of initiative. "It is a four year project in which all the 600 gram panchayats of Bastar District will get toilets, covering 13 lakh people," he added.

The total cost of making one toilet, he said, was Rs 1,500. The user has to submit Rs 250 and the rest of Rs.1250 would be by the Centre and the State Government.

Daily India

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posted by Resistance 5/08/2007 09:18:00 PM,

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