Completing 14 years in office, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh transforms the State from the country's Rice Bowl to a robust growth engine.
Completing 14 years in office, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh transforms the State from the country's Rice Bowl to a robust growth engine.
Dr Raman Singh is an odd man out in a cacophonic world of self-promotion. The 65-year-old chief minister of Chhattisgarh, who completed 14 years in office last month, maintains a rather surprisingly low profile. Shunning publicity, Dr Singh prefers his work to do all the talking. Incidentally, Dr Singh, an Ayurvedic doctorturned-politician, has become the country's first, longest-serving, BJP chief minister. Besides, he has found a place among the top-eight, longestserving chief ministers in the country.
What is striking about the Chhattisgarh chief minister is not just his long tenure but the quality of his rule. In these 14 years, Dr Singh has confronted the Naxal menace in the Central Indian State with effective welfare schemes and lasting infrastructure development. A silent per- former, Dr Singh's government is credited with a host of progressive steps that have put the State on a fast growth path.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh has gone far beyond just being the Rice Bowl of India. The State government's effective paddy procurement policy and transparent public distribution system (PDS) have made Chhattisgarh a model State that ranks topmost in unveiling far-reaching PDS reforms.
Leveraging the State's natural bounties of rich mineral resources and a wide-ranging farm produce, Dr Singh has turned Chhattisgarh into a thriving industrial hub of the country. Besides, his government's simplified rules and procedures have placed the State among the frontrunners in ease of doing business.
In its pursuit of industrial investments, the State has not turned a blind eye to its multiple social problems. In short, the State government has been trying hard to live up to the aspirations of its people. In fact, it was the neglect of these very aspirations that led to the birth of Chhattisgarh in 2000, carved out of Madhya Pradesh
"Chhattisgarh has shown the way and demonstrated how a relatively smaller State can scale new heights in development." NARENDRA MODI Prime Minister
during the previous NDA government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee.
The Congress government of Ajit Jogi - Chhattisgarh's first chief minister - did start off well. However, a series of scams disappointed people of the nascent State. The State legislative assembly polls in 2003 saw the BJP - led by Dr Singh, the State BJP president then - storming to power on the development agenda.
Since taking charge as chief minister in 2003, Dr Singh's many innovative social welfare schemes have benefited the weak and the vulnerable in the tribal-dominated State. These policies also seem to have ensured a long tenure for Dr Singh's government. "It is the blessings and trust of people that has led the party to win three consecutive elections in the State. We do
politics of development," notes the soft-spoken, gentleman-politician chief minister of Chhattisgarh.
Chhattisgarh today figures among the country’s top-five States in terms of ease of doing business and kick-starting industries in various sectors. It would not be out of place to note that Dr Singh’s rich administrative experience in the past has played a critical role in making Chhattisgarh a favourite investment destination. The Chhattisgarh CM who began his public life way back in 1983 as a councillor of Kawardha Municipal Council went on to become an MLA of Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha and was also Union minister of State for commerce and industry in the Vajpayee government.
No wonder, Chhattisgarh has stood fourth among all States and Union Territories in the ease of doing business ranking in the past three consecutive years – the State’s position is unchanged in the provisional rankings of 2017 that were released recently. The fourth rank achieved consistently by Chhattisgarh in the past three years indicates that the State government has taken a lot of efforts to increase its economic and industrial growth. In fact, the State government scored a whopping 97.32 per cent in implementation rate and did well in 331 out of the 340 parameters to bag the fourth position in the overall ease of doing business ranking of 2016.
The 340 parameters or areas of reforms related to the ranking are broadly under different categories, including construction permit, environmental and labour registration, electricity connection, online tax return filing, inspection reform, access to information and transparency, single-window processes, land availability and commercial dispute resolution. The parameters and the ranking have been jointly instituted by the World Bank and the Union government's Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.
“We are happy that in many parameters of ease of doing business and industrial growth, Chhattisgarh has succeeded to score a good rank and has brought a positive sign for people of the State as it will open up jobs and other opportunities for them,” points out Dr Santosh Jain, a noted economist and well-known financial expert.
The proactive measures of the government have transformed Chhattisgarh into a leading industrial hub of the country. In fact, over the last couple of years, industrial growth is not limited only to the more developed areas of Raipur, Durg, Rajnandgaon and Raigarh. Many new large industries as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have started operating in tribal-dominated and Naxal-affected districts of Bastar, Kondagaon, Kanker, Bijapur and Narayanpur.
The State's abundant mineral resources have made it an ideal destination for metal and other heavy industries. Major developments unfolding on the industrial front are set to upgrade the living conditions of the
"I am delighted to see the progress - be it in education, business or medical sector. Chhattisgarh has become a model for many States." YOGI ADITYANATH CM, UP
people of Chhattisgarh in the days to come.
In a major development set to light up the State's prospects, the board of NTPC, the country's largest thermal power producer, recently accorded an investment approval for Talaipalli project in Raigarh district for mining 18 million tonnes of coal per annum. The company is expected to commence coal production from the Talaipalli block by November 2019. The coal from this block is to be put to captive use for the 4,000-mw Lara Super Thermal Power Project (STPP) being established by NTPC in Chhattisgarh.
Notably, power from Lara in Raigarh district will be supplied to Chhattisgarh, Goa and Maharashtra. It may be recalled that NTPC's upcoming STPP has acquired all necessary clearances from the Union Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change for the project. The State is also expected to add 14,140 mw of thermal power by 2022 to cater to evergrowing demand from industries and enterprises.
With most three important elements of land, water and power easily available, the State is getting investments in several other sectors also. Recently, the government signed four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) involving a total investment of Rs 386 crore across electronics and food processing sectors. This investment would create over 2,800 employment opportunities in the State and give new employment avenues to local youth.
Chhattisgarh has always been one of the preferred States in the country for business and investment. But so far, most of the investments were made in core sectors, like mining, steel, aluminium, and cement. The State has huge potential for non-core sectors, like electronics, food processing, engineering and solar equipment, which are being promoted as strategic sectors in the State.
New sectors, like electronics, have got a big boost with approval of an electronics manufacturing cluster (EMC) in Naya Raipur, the State's new capital being built from scratch. Moreover, the State is set to house a metal park, an engineering park, a mega food park and a plastic park. Tourism too has got a leg-up with the launch of Raman Jan Paryatan Yojana, aimed at exploiting the State's natural beauty and boosting tourism there.
The Chhattisgarh government has also recently launched Sanchar Kranti Yojana (SKY), in which 45 lakh smartphones will be distributed to
youth and women in the State. Under SKY, 1,700 mobile towers will also be set up for providing mobile connectivity across the State.
Perhaps one of the biggest achievements in Dr Singh's long tenure is his government's efforts to bring about social change. The chief minister often stresses that one cannot comprehend the development journey of Chhattisgarh only by looking at the capital city of Raipur, Durg and Bhilai. It is the positive change in the lives of even the marginalised sections of Bastar and Surguja regions, which tells the tale of the State's journey. Accordingly, the Chhattisgarh government is formulating schemes to bring about positive changes in lives of those standing last in the row.
In fact, Dr Singh has always been
empathetic of marginalised people. Born in a family of farmers in Kawardha, he knows the harsh realities of weaker sections of society first hand. As the Ayurvedic doctor in Kawardha, he could rightly feel the pulse of his patients, especially the poor. He never lost that touch with ground realities even as he occupied higher posts in public life.
Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his interactive broadcast, Mann Ki Baat, on All India Radio (AIR), Dr Singh too followed suit with Raman Ke Goth on AIR and several other revenue-starved regional news channels. These efforts have brought the CM further closer to the people.
Meanwhile, the big fight in Bastar is building roads, bridges and schools, which are severely opposed by the Naxals. However, the good news is that 80 per cent of the seven districts of Chhattisgarh that were severely affected by Naxalites in the past are free of Naxals now. It was after the State government built education hubs of 6,000 children each in Naxalinfested areas of Dantewada that tribal children are making it to IITs and civil services, shunning the violent path and joining the mainstream. Besides, the government has started POTA cabins, Prayas residential schools and established an education city in Dantewada, where thousands of Naxal-affected children are provided with education facilities.
The big positive churn in education is not limited to the tribal and Naxal-affected population alone. Think of children of bureaucrats joining government-run schools to pursue their studies, that too at the primary level. Yes, that is what is happening in Chhattisgarh today. For the first time in the country, a couple of serving bureaucrats in the State have started a new trend by sending their children to government schools rather than the usual trend of sending them to private schools.
Balrampur District Collector Awanish Kumar Sharan began the trend by admitting his five-year-old daughter, Pragya, in the local government primary school. Taking a cue from him, another serving bureaucrat, D Ravishankar, the superintendent of police of the State Intelligence Bureau, also followed suit. In fact,
Mr Ravishankar admitted his six-yearold daughter, Dibyanjali, to the Shanti Nagar government primary school in Raipur. The Chhattisgarh government has assigned IAS and IPS officers to teach in their designated schools once a week in a bid to improve the quality of education in these schools.
With a view to ameliorate the living condition of tribals in the State, who are often known as poor people of the rich land, the District Mineral Foundation was introduced for the first time more than two years ago. The initiative has brought additional funds to the State's exchequer. Transparent auction of iron ore and dolomite, as a part of the initiative, has ensured that there is a significant increase in the State's revenues beyond Rs 4,000 crore.
"Now, in Korba, Dantewada and Raigarh, we are getting revenue of at least Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore more, which is going into development work for the people, ensuring drinking water and building schools. We have built good hospitals in Sukma and Bijapur. This is how policy changes things for the better," adds Dr Singh.
The new battle
Meanwhile, Naya Raipur, the new State capital which came up from scratch in 2012, is abuzz with activities. Naya Raipur - the fourth such planned, greenfield capital city in the country after Chandigarh (Punjab and Haryana), Bhubaneshwar (Odisha) and Gandhinagar (Gujarat) - is taking shape at a rapid pace and could hold significant lessons for the country's urban planners. Besides, the new capital of Chhattisgarh could also inspire Amaravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh that coming up at an aggressive pace.
Naya Raipur, conceptualised as an international city and the country's first smart State capital, boasts of wide roads, landscaped sidewalks and smart transportation. The Secretariat, named Capitol Complex, derived from the Capitol Hill in the United States, houses the offices of State chief minister and his Cabinet colleagues. Most of the State departments have shifted base here from old capital Raipur.
Chhattisgarh has indeed come a long way since Dr Singh took charge of the State 14 years ago. Just to demonstrate that huge change, the State Budget was around Rs 7,000 crore in 2003, when Dr Singh first became the chief minister. Today, Chhattisgarh boasts of an over eleven-fold jump in its Budget of a whopping Rs 82,000 crore. The State Gross Domestic Product at over Rs 2,50,000 crore and per capita income at Rs 82,000 have grown multi-fold during this period.
Similarly, the State has witnessed many significant changes during this period. The State's PDS has turned out to be an inspiring model for other States to overhaul their own food distribution systems. The battle against Naxalites is almost tilting in the State's favour. For the past many years, the State government has consistently worked for the betterment of the poor, farmers and all the sections of the society. Dr Singh's committment to the development of the State, including basic necessities of people such as education, health, roads, communication, electricity, drinking water, has helped Chhattisgarh gain reputation at national and international levels.
In his 14 years in office, Dr Singh has initiated a fascinating socio-economic transformation of the State. Now, the Ayurvedic doctor in him could be readying a new prescription to make Chhattisgarh an ideal role model of all-round growth.
Naya Raipur, the country's first smart State capital, stands testimony to Chhattisgarh’s development and progress.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh
Power generation capacity has shown multi-fold growth from mere 4,000 mw in 2003 to above 22,000 mw at present.
Dr Singh has confronted Naxal menace with lasting infrastructure, such as good roads.
State’s education hubs for children in Naxal-infested areas are a huge hit.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh: Playing politics of development