Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh has completed three years in office. During this period he has initiated a number of steps to put the state on a developmental fast track. His efforts have started bearing fruits. The State is now one of the major investment destinations in the country. There is a determined?in fact the first ever effort to combat Naxalite menace of organised mass movement with nominal state support, the State is attracting more tourists and the energy environment is improving by the day. Here in an interview to Organiser the Chief Minister expounds on his vision for his state. Excerpts:
What are the main achievements of your government in the last three years?
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was elected with a massive mandate and we were given an opportunity to serve people. BJP government is trying to live upto the expectations of people. Our government policies and programmes have led to the creation of favourable environment for development of villages, poor and farmers. We are committed to the welfare of all sections of the society. We only talk of development. We don'tpurchase MLAs like the Congress but purchase paddy at support price to facilitate fair price to toiling farmers of the State. There is a paradigm shift.
What are your priorities for development of tribal areas of the State?
Development of tribal areas is our top priority. Chhattisgarh has backward tribal regions such as Bastar and Sarguja on the one hand, on the other has developed and prosperous cities such as Bhilai, Korba and Raipur. We have to bridge this regional imbalance. Our priority is to link tribal regions with mainstream of development. Constitution of Bastar and Sarguja-Jashpur Development Authorities and decisions taken by the authorities are example of this. Decision to open Government Medical College in Jagdalpur was taken in the meeting of development authority. Medical College has been opened in Jagdalpur. Tribal areas of Chhattisgarh are rich in mineral resources but irony is that apart from Bhilai and Korba, industries are not located in mineral rich areas. Therefore, these regions are not getting benefits of their mineral resources. Our government invited industrial groups to set up industries in Bastar and Sarguja. Tata and Essar were invited to set up steel plants in ore-rich belt of Bastar. IFFCO and Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board are jointly setting up power plant in coal-rich Sarguja. On the initiative of our government, National Mineral Development Corporation has formed a joint venture company with Chhattisgarh State Mineral Development Corporation for excavation of 350 million tonnes of iron ore from Deposit of Bailadila mines. Apart from industrialisation our objective is to generate employment opportunities for youths of the State.
Are your efforts bearing fruits?
Results are encouraging. Our government has designed an attractive Industrial Policy. Five years Industrial Policy is in force from 2004. Entrepreneurs have been ensured numerous concessions. At the same time recruitment of 90 per cent unskilled labourers from the State has been made mandatory. This new Industrial Policy has been welcomed by investors and in the first seven months of current financial year Chhattisgarh bagged maximum number of investment proposals in the country. We are ahead of all other states. According to Ministry of Industry, Government of India, Chhattisgarh bagged capital investment of Rs 37,715 crore in the first seven months of 2006 i.e. January to July.
You have announced that there would be no load shedding in Chhattisgarh from Diwali 2007. Will you achieve this target?
Definitely?Our target is challenging but not impossible. A number of power projects are coming up in the public, private and joint sectors. Chhattisgarh will produce 10,000 megawatts by 2010. 500 mw, Korba East, thermal plant of CSEB will be commissioned by next year. 2,980 mw NTPC power plant is taking shape at fast pace. Mega units are setting up their own captive power plants. A lot of activities are taking place in the power sector.
Your government won the election on the issue of village, poor and farmers. What have you done for them?
Betterment of villages, poor and farmers is our top priority. Immediately after assuming office, as per our resolution, our government waived off loans worth Rs 118 crore of 6 lakh small and marginal farmers of the State. Our government purchased 63 lakh metric tonnes of paddy in the past two kharif seasons and paid Rs 3,598 crore to the farmers. This year, we are purchasing 40 lakh metric tonnes at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore. Due to our administrative dexterity complaints regarding payments have been sorted out. Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, State government'sNirmalaghat Yojana, Sadhbhavana Bhawan Yojana, Chhattisgarh Gaurav Yojana, Muktidham Yojana, poverty alleviation projects Nava Anjore and other schemes demonstrate our policies and programmes for rural development. Distribution of iodised salt for just 25 paisa per kilogram and distribution of sleepers to 12.50 lakh tendu leave pluckers show sensitivity of government towards poor. We are distributing 85,000 pairs of bulls in 85,000 blocks of the State.
Congress ruled for three years and BJP under your leadership completed three years. What is the difference between first and next three years of State formation?
Difference is perceptible in policies, intent and decisions. In the past three years our government provided single point connections to more than two lakh poor families; whereas erstwhile Congress rule provided single point connection to merely 59,000 in its three years. In 2005-06, we launched campaign to energies one lakh irrigation pumps over a span of three years whereas in the 50 years of Independence only 72,000 pumps could be energised. BJP government has already provided connections to more than 40,000 farmers. This clearly shows difference between the two rules.
What is your achievement in the field of education?
Distribution of free course books to more than 40 lakh school students, free bicycles to girl students of Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe communities of the high schools, computer education to more than one lakh girl-students under Chhattisgarh Soochna Shakti Yojana, opening of schools in tribal areas under Gyan Jyoti Yojana, recruitment of 40,000 Shiksha Karmis are our major achievements. We have opened Medical College in Bastar, three new universities? Kushabhau Thakrey Journalism University, Swami Vivekanand Technical University and Pt. Sundarlal Sharma (Open) University. We are going to start third Ayurveda University in Raipur after Jamnagar and Jodhpur.
Has there been progress in the development of roads?
Rs 3000 crore are being spent on construction of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, PWD and Asian Development Bank roads in Chhattisgarh.
Naxalism is a major challenge in your state. What are the steps taken to check Naxalism in the State?
Naxalism is not new but a 30-year old problem for Chhattisgarh. Naxalism is not only Chhattisgarh'sproblem but neighbouring States of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra are also plagued by Naxalism. Naxalism is national problem. Centre should formulate integrated policy to contain Naxalism. Chhattisgarh government is treading cautiously in law and order and socio-economic front. Positive thing that happened is that tribals of Bastar region started self-sponsored Salwa Judum campaign against violent activities of Naxalites. Peace march of thousands of tribals reminds us of ?Civil Disobedience? of Mahatma Gandhi. We are making all possible efforts for socio-economic development of people of Naxal affected areas of the State. Naxalism has been contained to a large extent in Sarguja region. We are also succeeding in Bastar region. I firmly believe that with the help of the people we will establish peace and normalcy in Naxal-affected areas and the region will definitely move ahead on the path of development.