Baripada/Balasore: Seeking concrete steps to bring back Maoists into national mainstream, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said development of tribals and economic activities in Naxal-hit areas were essential, apart from security measures.

"Security measures alone cannot put an end to Maoist activities. Development works for tribals, economic and political activities are equally important for tackling the menace," Ramesh said inaugurating a series of projects in Odisha's Mayurbhanj and Balasore districts.

Concrete steps were necessary to bring back Maoists into the mainstream, he said adding tribals and weaker sections must be made economically self-dependent in order to create a violence-free environment.

The union minister inaugurated a livelihood project and an incense stick manufacturing centre in Similipal hills and Jasipur areas respectively of Mayurbhanj district and an agarbati perfuming unit in Balasore.

Economic activities like horticulture, poultry, fisheries, animal husbandry, organic farming and fertilizers should be promoted in backward, tribal dominated and naxal-hit areas, he said at the functions in Mayurbhanj.

Speaking at the incensed sticks perfuming and packaging unit at Balasore, Ramesh asked women self-help groups to adopt professionalism as it could help them play a major role in bringing radical changes in villages.

"Women SHGs can play a vital role in strengthening the rural economy and transforming the villages if they adopt a professional approach and work sincerely," he said.

Asserting that money would not be a constraint to enable women SHGs to work, he said all steps were being taken for imparting modern technical skills to the members of SHGs.

"States like Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka have scripted success stories for development of rural economy through SHGs and steps are now being taken to improve the quality of women's groups in Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Rajasthan because of the rich natural resources available to them," the minister said.

He said "non-timber forest products especially cultivation and harvesting of bamboos should be handled by 'Gram Sabhas' and not by forest department."

(Agencies)


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