The min­eral-rich state is surg­ing in­dus­tri­ally, but the red cor­ri­dor threat won’t end till the fruits of growth reach its 26 per cent tribal pop­u­la­tion

India Today - - STATES - By Ajit Ku­mar Jha

Chhattisgarh is a poignant para­dox, a young state with an an­cient, rich his­tor­i­cal her­itage, boun­teous in min­er­als and a min­ing and in­dus­trial pow­er­house but with a low hu­man de­vel­op­ment in­dex. While the cen­tral plains in the RaipurBhi­lai-Durg belt are in­dus­tri­alised, ur­banised and pros­per­ous, the south­ern tip is mired in penury; while Naya Raipur is an ur­ban marvel, the state al­to­gether has one of the low­est rates of ur­ban­i­sa­tion; and with al­most 45 per cent for­est cover, the state has a serene green en­vi­ron­ment but with threats from a vi­o­lent red cor­ri­dor. Stand­ing at the thresh­old of a struc­tural trans­for­ma­tion, Chhattisgarh can be­come one of In­dia’s most de­vel­oped states pro­vided it bal­ances the pulls from dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions and turns the ‘para­dox’ into an op­por­tu­nity for growth and eq­ui­table de­vel­op­ment. Formed in 2000 as a state carved out of Mad­hya Pradesh, the state’s ances­try can be traced to the leg­endary Dak­shina Kos­ala (South Kos­ala named af­ter Rama’s mother Kaushalya) king­dom of the Ra­mayana. The Bas­tar district of Chhattisgarh, ac­cord­ing to his­to­ri­ans, was Dan­dakaranya where Lord Rama, Sita and Lak­sh­mana spent 14 years in ex­ile from the king­dom of Ay­o­d­hya. The town of Sir­pur/Shripur (et­y­mo­log­i­cally, the city of wealth) in Ma­hasamund district, on the banks of the river Ma­hanadi, was the glo­ri­ous cap­i­tal of the South Kos­ala king­dom. The Bud­dhist sites in Sir­pur ar­chi­tec­turally ri­val those of the an­cient Na­landa univer­sity in Bi­har (5th cen­tury BC to 12th cen­tury AD). Chi­nese trav­eller Xuan­zang writes that there were 100 monas­ter­ies and 10,000 monks when he vis­ited Sir­pur dur­ing the 7th cen­tury.

As for ge­og­ra­phy, shaped like a sea­horse, Chhattisgarh is a ver­dant state with thick forestry and a per­fect melange of wa­ter­falls, dense forests, gor­geous rivers, lime­stone caves, serene Hindu tem­ples and Bud­dhist and Jain monas­ter­ies, awe­some forts, palaces and much more. The ma­jes­tic Ma­hanadi river with its var­i­ous trib­u­taries cuts right across the state. The Teerath­garh and Chi­trakote cataracts on the Kanger and In­dra­vati rivers in Bas­tar district are ma­jor attractions for pil­grims. The Satkhandi caves, the Karanga ghat, the Bas­tar fort, the Chaitur­garh fort on the hills make Chhattisgarh a tourist par­adise that is still not well pub­li­cised.

Chhattisgarh is among the rich­est In­dian states in terms of min­eral wealth, but iron­i­cally, some three­fourths of its pop­u­la­tion is also ru­ral. The dis­tri­bu­tion is un­even, how­ever, with the far south of the state sparsely pop­u­lated com­pared to the north. The ur­ban pop­u­la­tion is con­cen­trated mainly in Raipur and Bi­laspur in the state’s mid­sec­tion and near Raigarh in the east. How­ever, mas­sive pub­lic sec­tor in­vest­ment in min­ing has helped spur growth around Durg and Bhi­lai Na­gar to the west of Raipur, Korba in the north-cen­tral re­gion, and Am­bika­pur in the north­ern part of the state. Raipur, Durg–Bhi­lai Na­gar and Bi­laspur have be­come ma­jor ur­ban ag­glom­er­a­tions, each with a good in­dus­trial base.

Rice bowl of In­dia

Half of Chhattisgarh’s land­mass is farm­land. The re­main­der is ei­ther un­der for­est cover or else non-arable land. About 75 per cent of the farm­land is un­der cul­ti­va­tion. Pop­u­larly called the coun­try’s ‘rice bowl’, the cen­tral low­land plains sup­ply grain to hun­dreds of rice mills. Maize and mil­let dom­i­nate the high­lands. Cot­ton and oilseeds are the im­por­tant com­mer­cial crops in the state. Man­ual meth­ods of agriculture still pre­vail since most farm­ers are yet to adopt mech­a­nised agriculture.

Chhattisgarh pro­duces 23,350 va­ri­eties of rice. Nearly

80 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion is de­pen­dent on farm­ing. Of the

47.4 lakh hectares of farm­land, rice is grown on about 37 lakh hectares. Be­tween 2011-2012 and 2016-17, the ab­so­lute con­tri­bu­tion of agriculture in the state’s GSVA (Gross State Value Added) grew at a CAGR of 12.6 per cent. De­spite be­ing a small state, it is in the top six rice-pro­duc­ing states with rice pro­duc­tion for the year 2014-15 at 6.32 mil­lion tonnes. The state re­ceived the Kr­ishi Kar­man Award twice for pro­duc­ing the high­est quan­tity of rice, in 2011 and 2013. But pro­duc­tiv­ity is still low (even be­low na­tional av­er­age), given the very low lev­els of ir­ri­ga­tion and poor tech­nol­ogy.

In 2014-15, given the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of crops as the new mantra in agriculture, Chhattisgarh re­ceived the Kr­ishi Kar­man award for achiev­ing the high­est in­crease in pro­duc­tion of pulses. Other grains pro­duced in the state are wheat, coarse ce­re­als, maize, pulses, oilseeds, sug­ar­cane, raw jute and mesta.

Min­ing hub and in­dus­trial pow­er­house

It is among the rich­est In­dian states in terms of min­eral wealth, with large de­posits of 28 ma­jor min­er­als, rang­ing from iron ore, tin, coal, lime­stone, quartzite, baux­ite and di­a­monds. Iron ore from Bailadila mines is con­sid­ered to be among the best in the world. So is the qual­ity of coal. Chhattisgarh ranked fourth in terms of value of ma­jor min­eral pro­duc­tion in In­dia, as of Novem­ber 2017. Coal pro­duc­tion reached 86.5 mil­lion tonnes in April-Novem­ber 2017. The state is also the sole pro­ducer of tin con­cen­trates (10,847 kg in 2017) in the coun­try, and ac­counts for 35.4 per cent of the tin ore re­serves in In­dia.

The rich nat­u­ral re­sources, pol­icy in­cen­tives and in­fras­truc­ture sup­port in­vest­ments in the iron and steel, ce­ment and power sec­tors. Chhattisgarh is also power sur­plus, a rare state which ex­ports elec­tric­ity to neigh­bour­ing ones. As a re­sult, ma­jor in­dus­trial play­ers, in­clud­ing the Steel Au­thor­ity of In­dia (SAIL) and As­so­ci­ated Ce­ment Com­pany, have thrived. About 58 large and medi­um­scale in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing big play­ers such as Mon­net Is­pat, Cen­tury Ce­ment, La­farge and Am­buja Ce­ment, have in­vested heav­ily in the state.

The sprawl­ing cap­i­tal, Naya Raipur, is con­sid­ered In­dia’s fourth planned city, spread over 8,000 hectares, with 40 sec­tors (21 res­i­den­tial) and world-class ameni­ties. It is the first 21st cen­tury city in In­dia. The city has been se­lected as a demon­stra­tion city un­der the Global En­vi­ron­men­tal Fa­cil­ity (GEF) and World Bank-as­sisted Sus­tain­able Ur­ban Trans­port Project (SUTP). Un­der the cen­tral Smart City scheme, Raipur, Bi­laspur and Korba are to be up­graded.

Man­u­fac­tur­ing-led growth

As the ‘In­dus­try-Spurred Growth’ ta­ble re­veals, the Chhattisgarh econ­omy is mainly based on the se­condary sec­tor (in­dus­trial) with a sec­toral share of 39 per cent of GSVA (Gross State Value Added) in 2016-17 (at 2011-12 base prices). The ter­tiary sec­tor (ser­vices) con­trib­uted a high 36 per cent of GSVA the same year. The pri­mary sec­tor (agriculture) is lim­ited, with sec­toral con­tri­bu­tion be­ing 25 per cent in GSVA.

Within the se­condary sec­tor, the man­u­fac­tur­ing sub-sec­tor is the sin­gle largest con­trib­u­tor to GSVA with the sec­toral share be­ing 22.6 per cent dur­ing 2016-17. This is fol­lowed by agriculture, forestry and fish­ing, a part of the pri­mary sec­tor, which to­gether con­trib­uted 15.2 per cent in the GSVA dur­ing 2016-17. Min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties con­trib­uted 9.8 per cent to the GSVA dur­ing 2016-

17. Chhattisgarh recorded the third high­est per capita in­come in 2016-17, mea­sured as per capita NSDP (Net State Do­mes­tic Prod­uct) at 2011-12 base prices, among the eight ‘BIMAROU’ states (Bi­har, MP, Ra­jasthan, Orissa and Ut­tar Pradesh and the new carved out Chhattisgarh, Jhark­hand and Ut­tarak­hand). The per capita in­come of Ut­tarak­hand re­mained al­most twice as high as that of Chhattisgarh.

In­tra-state vari­a­tions

The phys­iog­ra­phy of Chhattisgarh is a com­plex amal­gam of hilly ar­eas, plateaus, up­lands and pat­lands (mesas), which re­main in­ter­twined with the river basins. The three-tier nat­u­ral divi­sion of the state adopted by the Na­tional Sam­ple Sur­vey Of­fice (NSSO) con­sists of north­ern Chhattisgarh, Ma­hanadi basin and south­ern Chhattisgarh, which is roughly su­per­im­posed over the three agro­cli­matic zones—the north­ern hills, Chhattisgarh plains and Bas­tar plateau.

The north­ern Chhattisgarh re­gion is part of the Baghelk­hand plateau and roughly cov­ers the north­ern hilly re­gion of the state dom­i­nated by the Changb­hakhar-Deog­arh hills. This re­gion com­prises the Sur­guja, Su­ra­jpur and Bal­ram­pur dis­tricts. The forested, hilly district of Sur­guja is rich in baux­ite de­posits along with some patches of Gond­wana coal. While 45 per cent of Sur­guja is cov­ered by forests, Koriya district has about 62 per cent for­est cover, as per the 2017 as­sess­ment of In­dia State of For­est Re­port.

The Chhattisgarh plains, sit­u­ated in the heart of the state, is cov­ered mostly by the Ma­hanadi basin and com­prises the Durg-Raipur plain and Bi­laspur-Raigarh plain. This heart­land has the ma­jor in­dus­trial re­gions—Durg-Bhi­lai, Raipur, Korba and Bi­laspur. The Durg-Bhi­lai re­gion has rich re­serves of iron ore, lime­stone and quartzite. It houses the Bhi­lai Steel Plant, awarded the prime min­is­ter’s tro­phy for the best in­te­grated steel plant, and is In­dia’s sole sup­plier of world-class rails for the In­dian Rail­way along with be­ing a ma­jor pro­ducer of heavy steel plates and struc­tural steel. It is also home to the Bo­rai In­dus­trial Growth Cen­tre, a flour­ish­ing in­dus­trial re­gion un­der the am­bit of the Chhattisgarh State In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion.

The Raipur re­gion has rich de­posits of lime­stone and is a lead­ing in­dus­trial cen­tre. Naya Raipur city, the ad­min­is­tra­tive cap­i­tal of the state, is part of it. The Korba re­gion has opu­lent re­serves of coal and baux­ite, so it is a con­cen­tra­tion of min­ing-based in­dus­tries, apart from power gen­er­a­tion and alu­minium plants. With ma­jor ther­mal power plants, in­clud­ing NTPC’s Korba Su­per Ther­mal Power Plant in the re­gion, it has been branded In­dia’s ‘power cap­i­tal’.

The Bi­laspur re­gion hosts a num­ber of an­cil­lary in­dus­trial units, thanks to the pres­ence of South East­ern Coal­fields Ltd (SECL). The Sir­gitti In­dus­trial Growth Cen­tre is also lo­cated here. Bi­laspur is also the zonal head­quar­ters of the South East Cen­tral Rail­way Zone, one of In­dia’s most prof­itable, con­tribut­ing about 17 per cent of the rev­enues of In­dian Rail­way. The three ur­ban cen­tres of Durg, Bhi­lai and Raipur, sit­u­ated in close ge­o­graph­i­cal prox­im­ity, form the main in­dus­trial cor­ri­dor of Chhattisgarh. It has steel and ce­ment plants and to­gether forms the RaipurBhi­lai-Durg Tri City Metro area.

South­ern Chhattisgarh en­com­passes the Bas­tar plateau along with the Abu­jh­mar hills and Bas­tar plains. This re­gion ge­o­graph­i­cally co­in­cides with the Dan­dakaranya re­gion, de­scribed in Hindu mythol­ogy as the land of demons or land of the ex­iled. The densely forested tracts of the Abu­jh­mar hills are home to the indige­nous tribes of Gonds and Abuj Marias who live in iso­la­tion and oc­cupy the se­cluded en­claves of the Bas­tar re­gion.

The Bas­tar re­gion com­prises the erst­while dis­tricts of Bas­tar, Dan­te­wada and Kanker, which now stands di­vided into seven dis­tricts. The Bailadila range in Dan­te­wada is the high­est point of the Bas­tar plateau and the Bailadila mines in this range abound in high­grade hematite iron ore. The densely forested and largely in­ac­ces­si­ble tracts of the Bas­tar re­gion are part of the ‘Red Cor­ri­dor’, no­to­ri­ous for be­ing a vi­o­lent Nax­alite-af­fected re­gion.

Chhattisgarh’s chal­lenges

In­creas­ing in­equal­ity mixed with ris­ing eco­nomic growth is a ma­jor chal­lenge. A UNICEF re­port cites wide dis­par­i­ties in terms of gen­der, ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, civil strife and a ru­ral-ur­ban di­vide and avail­abil­ity of hu­man re­sources. Ac­cord­ing to re­cent health sta­tis­tics, the in­fant mor­tal­ity rate is 46 deaths per 1,000 live births, the ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rate is 269, and the to­tal fer­til­ity rate is 2.7. There is a need to scale up ef­forts to achieve de­vel­op­ment goals in Re­pro­duc­tive, Ma­ter­nal, New­born, Child and Ado­les­cent Health (RMNCH+A). Mal­nu­tri­tion is a con­cern—re­cent NFHS-3 data shows preva­lence of stunt­ing (53 per cent), un­der­weight (48 per cent) and wast­ing (24 per cent).

Although lit­er­acy and ed­u­ca­tion have spread a great deal, es­pe­cially via the pri­vate sec­tor, the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion is a con­cern. The NCERT (Na­tional Coun­cil for Ed­u­ca­tional Re­search and Train­ing) data for 2014 re­veals that per­for­mance of chil­dren in both lan­guage and math­e­mat­ics is the low­est in the coun­try. Low en­rol­ment and school com­ple­tion in chil­dren from dis­ad­van­taged groups are par­tic­u­larly alarm­ing. There’s not enough ef­fort be­ing made to­wards mul­ti­lin­gual ed­u­ca­tion ei­ther. Ac­cord­ing to the District In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem for Ed­u­ca­tion

(DISE) data anal­y­sis by UNICEF for 2012-13, there is high Gen­der Par­ity In­dex (GPI) at the pri­mary level (0.96), and (0.97) at the up­per pri­mary level (GPI equal to 1 in­di­cates par­ity be­tween males and fe­males).

The growth of ed­u­ca­tion is equally para­dox­i­cal: Chhattisgarh’s all-In­dia early de­vel­op­ment in­dex (EDI) rank at the pri­mary level is an im­pres­sive eighth, but at the up­per pri­mary level the state ranks a low 25th. Sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges also ex­ist in the civil strifeaf­fected dis­tricts of Bi­japur, Narayan­pur, Dan­te­wada, Bas­tar and Kanker, which ac­count for about 9 per cent of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion and where outreach and pro­vi­sion of so­cial ser­vices is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult. Com­mu­ni­ties in most re­gions still need to be in­formed about so­cial pro­grammes, and ser­vices have to be made more ac­ces­si­ble. The lack of av­enues for the fam­i­lies to ex­press con­cerns re­lated to es­sen­tial ser­vices, com­mu­ni­ties and liveli­hoods—es­pe­cially in hard-to-reach ar­eas—is daunt­ing.

Com­par­i­son with BIMAROU states

Chhattisgarh has the high­est pro­por­tion of pop­u­la­tion liv­ing be­low the poverty line com­pared to other BIMAROU states. About 40 per cent, both ru­ral and ur­ban com­bined, re­mained un­der

in 2011-12, as com­puted by the Ten­dulkar method­ol­ogy based on mixed re­call pe­riod con­sump­tion (other than money re­quired for a min­i­mum calo­rie in­take, the Ten­dulkar com­mit­tee shifted poverty es­ti­mate to a wider def­i­ni­tion, in­clud­ing spend­ing on food, ed­u­ca­tion, health, elec­tric­ity, cloth­ing and footwear). While poverty rates in Chhattisgarh were com­pa­ra­ble to its coun­ter­part state of Jhark­hand (37 per cent), the na­tional av­er­age re­mained way be­low at 22 per cent dur­ing the 2011-12 as­sess­ment.

The per­cent­age of pop­u­la­tion be­low the poverty line was 49.4 per cent dur­ing 2004-05, which came down to about 40 per cent dur­ing 2011-12. While there has been a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline of 9.5 per­cent­age points in poverty rates from 2004-05 to 2011-12, the de­cline in case of other BIMAROU states has been much higher dur­ing the same pe­riod. Due to this, Chhattisgarh’s rank in­fa­mously reached the top po­si­tion dur­ing 2011-12 among the BIMAROU states. Chhattisgarh also re­ported the sec­ond low­est de­cline in poverty rates, next only to Jhark­hand. This is when the av­er­age de­cline in poverty rates for the coun­try re­mained at about 15 per­cent­age points.

Chhattisgarh also re­ported the high­est pro­por­tion of ru­ral pop­u­la­tion liv­ing be­low the poverty line among the BIMAROU states in 2011-12, about 45 per cent. That said, rapid eco­nomic growth, es­pe­cially since 2004-05, has led to a ma­jor dent in poverty rates. The trends in ur­ban, ru­ral and to­tal poverty rates till 2011-12 de­pict a steady de­cline dur­ing this pe­riod. The rate of de­cline in ru­ral poverty rates es­pe­cially has been im­pres­sive, at about 11 per­cent­age points. The de­cline has been no­tice­ably sharp be­tween 2009-10 and 2011-12. The ur­ban poverty rates de­clined more sharply in the boom pe­riod, be­tween 2004-05 and 2009-10, from 28.4 per cent to 23.8 per cent, only to rise grad­u­ally to 24.8 per cent in 2011-12, when the slow­down be­gan, mark­ing an over­all de­cline of about 4 per­cent­age points be­tween 2004-05 and 2011-12.

Lit­er­acy rate growth slows

Dur­ing Cen­sus 2001, the to­tal lit­er­acy rate in Chhattisgarh was 64.7 per cent, which was slightly be­low the na­tional av­er­age of 64.8 per cent. Chhattisgarh ranked sec­ond among the BIMAROU states in to­tal lit­er­acy at­tain­ment dur­ing 2001, af­ter Ut­tarak­hand where the lit­er­acy rates were about 72 per cent, well above the na­tional av­er­age. How­ever, dur­ing Cen­sus 2011, Chhattisgarh recorded the to­tal lit­er­acy rate of 70.3 per cent, which was three notches be­low the na­tional av­er­age. Among the BIMAROU states, its rank slipped to third po­si­tion af­ter Ut­tarak­hand and Odisha. Although, Chhattisgarh marked an im­prove­ment of about 5.6 per­cent­age points in to­tal lit­er­acy rates dur­ing 2001 to 2011, this has been the low­est rate of im­prove­ment among the eight BIMA-

ROU states. Chhattisgarh, along with MP, marked the least im­prove­ment in lit­er­acy at­tain­ment.

Low life ex­pectancy and high in­fant mor­tal­ity

Chhattisgarh ranked among the bot­tom three of the BIMAROU states in life ex­pectancy at birth, which was 65.2 years dur­ing the 2011-2015 quin­quen­nial sur­vey of the Sam­ple Regis­tra­tion Sys­tem. The av­er­age life ex­pectancy at birth in the coun­try was 68.3 per cent dur­ing this pe­riod. Ut­tar Pradesh and Mad­hya Pradesh were the oth­ers with life ex­pectancy less than 65 years.

In in­fant mor­tal­ity rate (IMR) too, the per­for­mance has been dis­mal. All the BIMAROU states, ex­cept Jhark­hand, had higher rates of in­fant mor­tal­ity as com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age dur­ing 2016 (as recorded by the Sam­ple Regis­tra­tion Sys­tem). Chhattisgarh ranked fourth among the eight BIMAROU states with IMR at 39 deaths per thou­sand live births of chil­dren un­der one year, which re­mained com­pa­ra­ble to the rates in Bi­har and Ut­tarak­hand. The na­tional av­er­age is 34 deaths per thou­sand live births.

That said, the rate of de­cline in IMR in Chhattisgarh be­tween 2000 and 2016 has been rather im­pres­sive, even com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age. While IMR de­clined from 68 to 34 deaths per thou­sand live births be­tween 2000 and 2016 at the na­tional level (a de­cline rate of 50 per cent), in Chhattisgarh, the IMR de­clined from 79 to 39 deaths in the same pe­riod, a de­cline rate of 50.6 per cent. Chhattisgarh ranked third among the BIMAROU states in terms of rate of de­cline be­tween 2000 and 2016. The per­for­mance of Jhark­hand and Odisha has been more im­pres­sive, with 59 and 54 per cent de­cline in IMR dur­ing the same pe­riod.

High­est so­cial sec­tor ex­pen­di­ture

Chhattisgarh marked the high­est ex­pen­di­ture on the so­cial sec­tor—about 57 per cent—as a per­cent­age of to­tal ex­pen­di­ture among the eight BIMAROU states, as per the bud­get es­ti­mates of 2015-16. This was way above the na­tional av­er­age of about 43 per cent. All the BIMAROU states, ex­cept for UP, recorded a higher pro­por­tion of ex­pen­di­ture on the so­cial sec­tor as

com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age.

Chhattisgarh also recorded an in­creas­ing trend in per­cent­age of ex­pen­di­ture on the so­cial sec­tor be­tween 2011-12 and 2015-16. The pro­por­tion of ex­pen­di­ture in­creased from 51.6 per cent in 2011-12 to 56.8 in 2015-16, an in­crease of 5.2 per­cent­age points. This re­mains higher than the na­tional av­er­age, which marked an in­crease by 4.2 per­cent­age points in the same pe­riod.

Surge in per capita power avail­abil­ity

In the age of digi­ti­sa­tion, ac­cess to elec­tric­ity can be re­garded as a ba­sic amenity. The ex­tent of ac­cess to elec­tric­ity in ru­ral ar­eas and the quan­tum pro­vided is a gauge of the level of de­vel­op­ment of phys­i­cal in­fras­truc­ture in an area. The Deen Dayal Upad­hyaya Gram Jyoti Yo­jana, the cen­tral scheme for ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, was de­signed to pro­vide con­tin­u­ous power sup­ply to ru­ral ar­eas. The sta­tus of ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion in Chhattisgarh, as on April 30, 2018, un­der this scheme, re­ported that 19,567 vil­lages were elec­tri­fied; 97 per cent of the tar­get vil­lages were cov­ered pro­vid­ing ac­cess to ru­ral house­holds and 87 per cent of tar­get BPL house­holds were elec­tri­fied. The achieve­ments in­clude 67 per cent in­ten­sive elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of tar­get vil­lages as on April 30, 2018. The Prad­han Mantri Sa­haj Bi­jli Har Ghar Yo­jana ‘Saub­hagya’ scheme re­ported that of the state’s to­tal house­holds, 86 per cent of ru­ral house­holds and 97.7 per cent of ur­ban homes were elec­tri­fied as on Oc­to­ber 10, 2017.

Ac­cord­ing to NITI Aayog, Chhattisgarh recorded the sec­ond high­est per­cent­age of ru­ral house­holds elec­tri­fied among the BIMAROU states—86 per cent—as on April 30, 2017, much higher than the na­tional av­er­age of about 75 per cent. Ut­tarak­hand fared marginally bet­ter, with 87 per cent ru­ral house­holds elec­tri­fied, to se­cure the top rank among the eight BIMAROU states.

The per capita avail­abil­ity of power in Chhattisgarh was 928 kWh, which re­mained com­pa­ra­ble to the na­tional av­er­age of 938 kWh dur­ing 2016-17. Chhattisgarh ranked third among the BIMAROU states, next to Ut­tarak­hand and Ra­jasthan, with re­spect to per capita avail­abil­ity of power. The state has also recorded faster growth in in­creas­ing quan­tum of power avail­able per head to its pop­u­lace. While the na­tional av­er­age of per capita avail­abil­ity im­proved from 766 kWh in 2010-11 to 938 kWh in 2016-17, Chhattisgarh im­proved from a dis­mal 488 kWh to 928 kWh dur­ing the same pe­riod. The year 2015-16 recorded a mas­sive 991 kWh per capita avail­abil­ity of power in Chhattisgarh, as com­pared to the na­tional av­er­age of 901 kWh. Chhattisgarh has also recorded the high­est per­cent­age in­crease in per capita avail­abil­ity of power among the BIMAROU states —90.2 per cent—dur­ing 2010-11 to 2016-17.

Ac­cess to safe drink­ing wa­ter higher than na­tional av­er­age

Chhattisgarh marked a high ac­cess to ‘safe wa­ter’, which is de­fined as wa­ter from safe sources such as tap wa­ter, hand pump and tube well. Ac­cord­ing to Cen­sus of In­dia, 2011, about 86 per cent of the to­tal house­holds in Chhattisgarh had ac­cess to safe drink­ing wa­ter, marginally higher than the na­tional av­er­age of 85.5 per cent. It also recorded the sec­ond high­est per­cent­age in­crease in the pro­por­tion of house­holds with ac­cess to safe drink­ing wa­ter, af­ter Jhark­hand, among the BIMAROU states, com­par­ing the 2001 and 2011 cen­suses. Chhattisgarh marked a 22.4 per cent in­crease in the pro­por­tion of house­holds with ac­cess to safe wa­ter, which was way above the na­tional av­er­age of 9.8 per cent. Jhark­hand, how­ever, per­formed bet­ter with 41.1 per cent in­crease in such

house­holds. The sce­nario was quite sim­i­lar in the case of ru­ral house­holds.

The way for­ward

The Chhattisgarh story is unique in many ways. The state’s eco­nomic growth is pow­ered by in­dus­trial growth. Com­par­ing Chhattisgarh with Jhark­hand and Ut­tarak­hand, the three small states born in the year 2000, the for­mer is con­spic­u­ous in terms of growth led by in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion, par­tic­u­larly min­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing. Sec­ond, po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity un­der the lead­er­ship of Chief Min­is­ter Ra­man Singh—who took the ba­ton from the Congress party’s Ajit Jogi (now leader of the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh) in 2003—makes Chhattisgarh stand out com­pared to the other two states.

From a hu­man de­vel­op­ment per­spec­tive, the state con­tin­ues to por­tray the typ­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of the BIMAROU states in cer­tain pa­ram­e­ters such as high poverty rates, high in­fant mor­tal­ity and low life ex­pectancy but has made re­mark­able im­prove­ments in terms of ac­cess to ba­sic ameni­ties such as elec­tric­ity and safe wa­ter. With a higher pro­por­tion of ex­pen­di­ture on the so­cial sec­tor, Chhattisgarh has achieved sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in its in­fant mor­tal­ity rates. The state’s progress has been im­pres­sive across var­i­ous so­cioe­co­nomic pa­ram­e­ters, but a lot more needs to be done to re­duce the poverty rates, check the grow­ing slum pop­u­la­tion in the ur­ban dis­tricts and im­prove so­cial pa­ram­e­ters to shed its BIMAROU tag.

Most news from Chhattisgarh is neg­a­tive: vi­o­lence and threats from left-wing ex­trem­ism, low life ex­pectancy and de­cline in in­fant mor­tal­ity. “This is partly un­der­stand­able but is also a partly jaun­diced view,” says econ­o­mist and NITI Aayog mem­ber Bibek De­broy in his book Foot­prints: The Story of Chhattisgarh. De­broy adds that there is plenty of pos­i­tive news emerg­ing from the state now, about growth, de­vel­op­ment and good gover­nance that in­cor­po­rates peo­ple’s needs and as­pi­ra­tions. Even vi­o­lencer­acked dis­tricts like Sukma and Dan­te­wada are no longer what they were a few years ago.

The change is ev­i­dent and pal­pa­ble, writes De­broy. “This isn’t about in­cre­men­tal change in Chhattisgarh. This is about tak­ing Chhattisgarh to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent de­vel­op­ment tra­jec­tory, the fruits of which will be vis­i­ble 20 years from now, not to­day,” he con­cludes. How­ever, in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion in the next two decades needs to move from the steel and min­ing in­dus­try to IT and the knowl­edge sec­tor, which will re­quire a qual­i­ta­tive leap. Only such hope and a pos­i­tive vi­sion can help the 18-year-old Chhattisgarh state deal with the poignant para­doxes of de­vel­op­ment.

Aerial view of the new Chhattisgarh cap­i­tal, Naya Raipur

Chief Min­is­ter Dr Ra­man Singh

An IPL match at the Chhattisgarh In­ter­na­tional Cricket Sta­dium in Raipur

Pand­vani singer Tee­jan Bai per­form­ing at an event

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