Quoting a study of Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), the Union home ministry has claimed that the Maoists are extorting a levy of not less than Rs140 crore per annum from a variety of sources.
The study that was commissioned by the government to have an independent assessment of CPI (Maoists) financial strength does not divulge any names but says that levy is being extorted from corporate, industrialists, businessmen, transporters, illegal mining mafia, contractors, particularly Tendu Patta (used to make beedis) contractors and even the government servants.
The study was conducted by interviewing cross section of affected people, police officials and analysis of seized documents of the CPI (Maoist).
In 2011, the Chhattisgarh Police had arrested General Manager of steel major Essar, DVCS Verma on charges of paying up Rs15 lakh as protection money to the CPI (Maoist). The money was being paid in cash through a private civil contractor BK Aggarwal better known as Lala in a weekly market.
Worst Maoist violence affected states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha are also the frontrunner states where CPI (Maoist) is extorting the maximum amount of money, more than 70% of the their total extortion, sources said.
However, IDSA's estimates are at a big variance from the Intelligence Bureau's assessment done earlier that pegged the annual extortion done by the Maoists in the range of Rs 1200-2000 crore per annum.
Wary of the growing extortion industry of the Maoists, the seventh report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission had recommended setting up of special anti-extortion and anti-money laundering cells by the state police and state governments.
The ministry of mines has also advised the state governments to establish such cells to prevent the nexus between illegal mining, forest contractors, transporters and the extremists, said minister for state for home, Kiren Rijiju informing the Lok Sabha.
But despite these advisories and efforts by the Centre, little headway has been made to break this nexus as there are several interests involved, sources said.