Indian state seeks one billion dollars to counter Maoists

NEW DELHI, July 24, 2010 (AFP) – An Indian state seen as a bastion of an increasingly deadly Maoist revolt said Saturday it was seeking one billion dollars to counter the left-wing insurgency with a development surge. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh told federal and state planners that the funds would be spent to rapidly build infrastructure and improve social conditions in the worst-hit districts of the troubled central Indian state.

“We have submitted a scheme totalling 45.5 billion rupees (one billion dollars) for seven districts widely affected by left-wing extremism and I hope its sanction will be accorded soon,” he told the National Development Council.

Chhattisgarh says the insurgency has taken roots in 13 of the impoverished state’s 19 districts.

Additional “special assistance should also be made available to the six other districts in affected by the Maoist menace,” the chief minister told the New Delhi meeting attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Some 80 percent of the state’s 21.7 million population live in abject poverty, according to government figures.

State authorities told AFP in May that up to 1,300 “combat-ready” Maoists were present in Chhattisgarh wher