Building a new and inclusive Chhattisgarh - Hindustan Times
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Building a new and inclusive Chhattisgarh

Aug 15, 2023 09:12 PM IST

Chhattisgarh's road to progress placed the people at its core by enabling, uplifting, and empowering them through innovative strategies

Our country is in the midst of a crisis of identity and purpose. The social fabric of trust and confidence has weakened, the economy is in distress and there is an atmosphere of fear. Yet, four-and-a-half years ago, the people of Chhattisgarh entrusted us with a resounding mandate — an opportunity for us to create a new future of hope and dignity, a Nava Chhattisgarh.

Chhattisgarh shows the world a new sustainable economic model, where everyone has benefitted from the financial prosperity of the state.(Pixabay) PREMIUM
Chhattisgarh shows the world a new sustainable economic model, where everyone has benefitted from the financial prosperity of the state.(Pixabay)

Even though our state has abundant mineral wealth and natural resources, it was a paradox of prosperity squandered; our people were deprived of their rightful benefits; the indices of development, health, education, and employment were disappointingly low. This needed immediate action.

Within Chhattisgarh’s demographic tapestry of farmers, tribals and forest dwellers, we recognised the impracticality of a one-size-fits-all approach. Hence, our road to progress placed the people at its core: Enabling, uplifting, and empowering them through innovative strategies. We embarked on a mission that prioritised health care, a roadmap for quality education, gainful employment and waging a war against malnutrition and malaria. We recognised the deep-rooted discontent among marginalised farmers who felt deprived of their due. Despite the central government’s refusal to allow us to procure our paddy crop at an increased minimum support price (MSP), we fulfilled our commitment by compensating the farmers. Through the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana, we transferred 20,102 crore as input subsidy to more than 2.4 million farmers. Additionally, we waived 9,270 crore in short-term agricultural loans within two hours of the oath-taking ceremony. The long pending irrigation tax of 325 crore was also waived. Our efforts have yielded impressive outcomes. A surge in the number of registered farmers, now producing the highest amount of paddy, helped us surpass previous records in paddy procurement.

Chhattisgarh boasts one of the highest forest covers in the country. Its forest dwellers, whose livelihood depended on the forests for generations, were facing extreme hardships with no support from the government. We focused on returning to the past harmony with nature. Today, Chhattisgarh is at the forefront of distributing individual and community forest rights titles to forest dwellers. Furthermore, we have implemented measures for their sustainable development by procuring 67 minor forest produce (MFP) at MSP directly from them. Chhattisgarh contributes more than 74% towards India’s MFP pool.

Recognising health as an investment, we mobilised resources to establish an extensive and affordable health care infrastructure. Chhattisgarh leads with the largest integrated health care scheme in the country. We took health care to people’s doorsteps, reaching even the remotest corners of heavily forested areas through the innovative Haat Bazaar Clinic Yojana. Our mobile clinic schemes have benefitted more than 11 million people so far.

The persistent challenges of malnutrition and malaria plagued Chhattisgarh. However, our affirmative action yielded positive outcomes. By launching the Malaria Mukt Bastar Abhiyan, we achieved an unprecedented decline in malaria cases within a year. Our relentless commitment to combating malnutrition has yielded significant reductions in childhood malnutrition and women’s anaemia.

Education serves as a crucial tool for social transition and addressing deep-rooted asymmetry. We believe that every child, regardless of their background, deserves quality education as a basic right. We have transformed our educational landscape and levelled the field. Under the Swami Atmanand School of Excellence Scheme, about 727 schools are providing a free world-class education to more than 440,000 students. We have successfully reopened more than 300 schools in Maoist-affected areas of Bastar, ensuring access to education that was absent for over a decade.

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of self-sustained villages, suraji gaon, we initiated several schemes that transformed the rural economy and enabled villages to prosper. We pumped a huge amount of money into the rural economy and it is now helping our urban markets and fostering our indigenous industries to grow at a rapid pace. Our bold and innovative actions enabled the economy to thrive even when the country was grappling with distress. Chhattisgarh shows the world a new sustainable economic model, where everyone has benefitted from the financial prosperity of the state.

Bhupesh Baghel is chief minister, Chhattisgarh. The views expressed are personal

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