BHUBANESWAR: As the Left Wing Extremists eye to disrupt economic services in their stronghold in eastern States of Chhattisgarh and Odisha, a major mineral bearing belt, the Indian Railways is busy chalking out strategies to thwart Naxal activities in Kirandul-Koraput line which earns it about `6000 crore in revenue annually.
While Chhattisgarh Police has stepped up anti-Maoist operations with significant success on its side of the border, the Odisha Police too has gone after the Left ultras to match the pressure. As a result, the security forces are anticipating increasing attacks by the Red rebels on communication infrastructure such as railway and roads.
As the two States aggressively push flush-out operations, Maoist attack is anticipated to rise on Kirandul-Koraput line which is a major freight corridor.
Sources said Chhattisgarh DGP AN Upadhyay had a meeting with Director General of Railway Protection Force RR Verma in this regard at New Delhi earlier this week which was followed by another round of meeting with Chief Security Commissioner (CRC) and IG of RPF, East Coast Railway Atul Pathak at Raipur.
Since double-lining work for Kirandul-Koraput line is being taken up in different phases after approval of the Centre, the security agencies are apprehensive that Naxals might resort to disruptive activities to stall the work.
So far, Maoists have hit five economic targets this year, all of them in Chhattisgarh, while attacks on rail infrastructure are limited to Chhattisgarh and Odisha though 12 of 13 incidents have been reported in the neighbouring State alone.
The major thrust of anti-Maoist strategies to prevent attacks on railway infrastructure is focused on Dantewada and Jagadalpur – both located in Bastar Division – and neighbouring Koraput. Source said security agencies are assessing vulnerability in the region and the trends so that preventive measures can be put in place.
“Although the Maoists have been lying low for now, it is part of their activity cycle. The rebels are known to strike after regrouping in newer pockets. We are keeping track of the Intelligence inputs on their movements and activities in the region,” sources pointed out.
Apart from protecting freight traffic, the Railways is also giving thrust to ensure that project works for double lining remain unharmed because the response of railway contractors to the new works is directly related to the Maoist activities. Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved doubling of Jagdalpur-Koraput section at `1,839 crore. The project will cover 110.22 km in seven years. Similarly, the 160-km Kirandul-Jagdalpur double line at an estimated `1143 crore is at its preliminary stages.
Contacted, Pathak said, “We are committed to ensuring peace and security in the region by preventing Maoist attacks on railway infrastructure and project works.”