Maharashtra seeks MI-17 chopper, continuation of CRPF in Naxal areas

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today sought from the Centre more paramilitary forces and large MI-17 helicopter for smoother combing operations in Naxal-hit areas of the state.

Fadnavis met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi at a meeting to take a stock of the problems faced by Naxal-affected states, and sought continuation of CRPF, among other things.

"Central Reserve Police Force deployed in Naxal areas was to be replaced with Indo-Tibetan Border Police. I requested the HM to stop the deployment of ITBP for now because the whole idea of deployment is to ensure police presence in maximum possible areas," Fadnavis told PTI.

"One battalion of CRPF has six companies. We currently have five battalions which means 30 companies. In ITBP's case one battalion has five companies. So the number of companies will decrease by five. The HM assured that CRPF will be deployed for now, and when the ITBP takes over, we will get five extra companies."

Fadnavis said he also requested Singh for an MI-17 helicopter for smoother combing operations in Naxal-hit areas.

"We have one PawanHans helicopter. It is small. The area infested with Naxals is large. Hence we requested for a larger helicopter," he said.

He also asked Singh to fast track approvals for Rs 417 crore proposal of construction of Wadsa-Desaiganj to Gadchiroli railway line, and Gadchandur to Adilabad line, a Rs 350 crore proposal.

"It is with the Railway Ministry as revised administrative proposal. I have been assured that the proposals will be accepted at the earliest," he said.

The Chief Minister also asked for quick approval of stablishment of cell phone towers in affected areas.

"BSNL is putting up cell towers so that we can build a network for internet and mobile phones. 67 areas (in Naxal-infested region) have been identified. I have requested them to expedite the process and was assured it will be done by August-end," Fadnavis said.

The Chief Minister also proposed FM radio service in Naxal-hit areas.

"The only source of information for people living in these areas is Naxals. People are forced to believe what they say. The I&B Minister assured us that a plan will be formulated for Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra where we can start FM radio service in local dialect," he said.

Maharashtra also requested an arms import license from the Centre, he said.

"The state needs to import arms and ammunition which are used by the CRPF. While Chhatisgarh has a license, we don't. The HM has agreed to provide us one immediately and has allowed us to temporarily compensate for the shortfall by taking an arms loan from the CRPF which we will return once we start importing," Fadnavis said.

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