VED members met Ashok Nete, Member of Parliament of Gadchiroli and presented him with a roadmap for development of Gadchiroli which is languishing due to various factors, a major one being insurgency for the last 20 years. This problem arises from a lack of employment opportunities so the setting up of a few big projects would generate a good deal of employment. Ancillaries would come up further improving prospects of employment. Once employment is in place, insurgency is bound to reduce and Gadchiroli can be on par with the other regions of Vidarbha said Devendra Parekh, President, VED.
Parekh added, that Surjagarh being rich in iron ore, the setting up of a large Steel plant there like that in Bhilai would be viable. It has the capacity of 3 million tonnes per annum and with reserves of 400 million tons it can last 100 years. In fact, Jamshedji Tata had surveyed Surjagarh in 1927 for a steel plant which he eventually did in Tatanagar (Jamshedpur), dropping Surjagarh for a lack of infrastructure and accessibility. Today, with all conditions being favourable like the availability of iron ore, water, forest, manpower, and minerals like limestone, dolomite, manganese within a 150 km radius, Gadchiroli deserves a large Steel plant which would be a sure way of eradicating the problem of insurgency.
Rs. 25000 cr. directly and 15000 cr. indirectly can come with this Steel plant with investments in mining, railways, roads. 20000 people directly and 15000 people indirectly will be involved. 1000-1500 acres of land is needed for this project. With a maximum possible revenue-land and some private land this project can become a reality. Presently, the Govt. is serious about the land acquisition issues and there may not be a problem. This can obviously change the region in terms of past many decades of suffering of the people, especially tribal people struggling for their Rights.
Further, Markanda, an important heritage and tourist site in Gadchiroli, is languishing as a result of a lack of care and is, therefore, in a pathetic condition. This site is not only important to the country but should be declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A similar monument at Mahabalipuram, in Tamil Nadu, is 1200 years old and is a UNESCO World Heritage site now.
While at least one criterion is needed to be fulfilled to qualify for being declared as a world heritage site, Markanda fulfills at least six of the ten criteria. For being declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site the ASI must prepare a development plan (DPR) of Markanda to this effect.
A few imperatives for Markanda are the development and beautification of the peripheral areas around the site for tourists, setting up of signages and milestones leading to Markanda since none exist, conservation of the Monument which is urgently required and although the ASI is looking after it, not a single person can actually be found around the premises as a caretaker. It can also be added to the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve wildlife tourism circuit provided full-day safaris are re-introduced into TATR.
Rahul Upganlawar, Secretary General, VED, informed that other projects are viable too like a railway coach and wagon repairing complex which is highly employment-generative. With this, direct and indirect 10000 people may get engaged with a lot of ongoing work generated by this activity. Small and big outsourcing jobs will also come along. Railways already has 500 acres of land in Nagbhir which can be used for it.
Pradeep Maheshwari, Member, VED, informed Nete about other projects like setting up of a Police & Reserve Training Academy in Wadsa Desaiganj where revenue land of 500 acres is readily available. Such academies exist in Nasik, Kolhapur and Mumbai hence one is urgently needed in Vidarbha. The local people can take advantage of this and get employment a lack of which is the root of all insurgency- related troubles. Once this happens, local businesses and tourism will get a boost which will, in turn, create further jobs.
Maheshwari further apprised Nete of construction of a railway line between Ballarshah and Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh). He said from Vidarbha most of the ports are at a distance of 800 km. With this proposed railway line the distance can be reduced by 200 km. to Vishakhapatnam port via Jagdalpur. Most of the industries here use Visakhapatnam port as Mumbai port is very congested and costlier. With this new railway line many employment opportunities will also come along the track mostly passing through Naxal-affected area as laying the track would take 4-6 years. Gadchiroli will be the greatest beneficiary of this proposal. Goods and passengers in large numbers will get the advantage. Mr. Nete, convinced of the viability of the projects was very forthcoming and assured all help.
Parekh further suggested, very importantly that since the Govts. of India and Maharashtra spend a lot to combat insurgency, this problem being more economic than social due to a lack of development opportunities, to combat this situation Gadchiroli needs to be given Special District Status to attract industrial development.
The incentives to industries should include exemption from payment of central excise duty, Income Tax, 50% concession in the financial obligations towards the Companies Act all these for a period of 10 years and security expense reimbursement @ 1% of the total capital investment to each unit annually for a period of 10 years. “If these above incentives are offered, I am sure a lot of development will take place. Secondly, Gadchiroli is very rich in mineral resources hence it would be appropriate to do the value-addition of this mineral wealth in the district itself which will create enough employment opportunities. Together with the above incentives this will go a long way in the development of this insurgency-ridden district which is reeling under the ills of insurgency by helping to create enough opportunities for the people here,” added Parekh.