In his first interview to Organiser after registering a glorious victory in Chhattisgarh for the second time, Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh assures to fulfill all the promises he had made to the people of the State during the elections. Excerpts.
What big promise you have made to the people of Chhattisgarh?
We have promised that this government will cater to every basic need of the people. Foremost is the food security of the poor people. We are ensuring that no person should sleep hungry. We are giving the tribals the land rights and distributed more than one lakh van adhikar patras to them under the Scheduled Caste and other traditional forest dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006.
Right now we are providing rice at the rate of Rs 3.00 per kg to to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. From April it will be reduced to Rs 2.00 per kg. Further, free salt will be provided to the poor families. We are giving crop loans to the farmers at the rate of 3 per cent per annum. From next financial year we would provide them interest free loan. A bonus of Rs 270.00 per quintal of paddy is also given to the farmers.
Where does Chhattisgarh stand today in terms of economic progress?
Chhattisgarh is developing very fast and its economic condition is very sound. Our annual growth rate is 7 per cent in comparison to the national average of 4 per cent. According to recent RBI evaluation report Chhattisgarh is at par with 3 other states in better financial management. There was 9.6 per cent increase in the GDP in last financial year. Our per capita income has increased from Rs 19,557 to Rs 22,605 in the year 2006-07. We have also increased our budget to 18,285 crore. We are paying equal attention to increase the infrastructural facilities in the State and are providing sufficient budget for the same.
What have been your major developmental steps to reach out to common man?
Our Government is working whole heartedly for the welfare of common man. Our aim is to provide basic amenities to the people, give them a responsible government and the feeling that this is their own government. We are giving tribals, fair price for their forest produce. Collection rate of Sal seeds have been increased from Rs 300 per quintal to Rs 1,000 per quintal. Tendu patta collection rate also been increased. Bonus on Tendu patta is also distributed among the tribals. We are a zero power cut State in the country and that is a real big relief to the common man.
After the recent terrorists attacks in Mumbai, Chhattisgarh also stands at risk. What are the steps being taken to counter that?
To deal with terrorism we have formed an anti terrorist squad at State level and are planning to set up ATS in all the districts. We have decided to convert CAF battalion to commando battalion to work in urban areas. To strengthen the intelligence work we will set up analysis group in State and all the district headquarters.
Which aspect of development is in your top your priority list and agenda at this point of time?
Our priority is to put smile on every face. Our priority is to improve quality of life of poor persons, farmers and the empowerment of women. We have launched many schemes to improve the condition of women .Our government is giving Rs 5,000 to poor daughters for their marriage. We are also giving 50 per cent reservation to women in the Panchayat Raj bodies. Land registration fee has been decreased by 2 per cent for women.
In your opinion, what is your government'smajor achievement?
Our govern-ment'smajor achievement is the faith people has reposed in us. The people in the State feel secure and happy by our pro-people policies. We have provided food security to 37 lakh BPL families, gave more than 1 lakh irrigation pump connections to our farmers, more than 1.5 lakh free cycles to our needy school going daughters. We have improved a lot in health sector too. Through our consistent efforts we reduced IMR rate from 79 per 1,000 to 61. Maternal mortality rate has also been decreased. Since last 5 years there is no single case of polio in our State. Due to all these efforts the State has received the prestigious JRD. Tata Memorial Award this year. We are providing health facilities at the doorstep of the tribals in Haat Bazar. Our on-line PDS monitoring system was also appreciated and awarded by the Government of India.
To give equal importance to education our government has given free textbooks to 50 lakh school children. Twenty thousand daily wage employees have been regularised. We have provided safe drinking water to more than 98 per cent habitations.
What would be the prospects of the BJP during the next general elections in Chhattisgarh?
Prospects of the BJP in the forthcoming elections are bright and heartening. We have full faith in our people. They will lead us to victory in the coming elections also.
How do you rate Chhattisgarh as a tourist destination?
Chhattisgarh has got much potential to become major tourist destination. Scenic beauty, dense forests and the myriad hues of our culture are the main tourist attractions. Chhattisgarh is becoming famous for eco tourism and, pilgrimage tourism. ?Rajim? the confluence of three auspicious rivers is regarded as fifth Kumbh of India by the people. Many saints have approved of this Kumbh.
We often hear about the Naxalite violence in Chhattisgarh. What do you have to say and how are you handing the same? What do you have to say about controversies regarding ?Salwa Judum??
Naxalism is a national problem and the Central Government has also accepted this. Our government is dealing with Naxalites firmly and courageously. Salwa Judum is a peace movement of the tribals of south Bastar. It is a form of protest against the brutalities of the Naxalites. Government is only doing its duty by providing them security and basic amenities.
For the all round socio-economic development of these areas two special organisations, Bastar Vikas Pradhikaran and Sarguja Vikas Pradhikaran have been established. Through these bodies local needs are fulfilled. About Rs 400 crore have been spent for the development of these areas. We have opened two universities. Bastar University and Sarguja University provide higher education to the tribals of these areas. One medical college was opened in Jagdalpur (Bastar) in the year 2006.
(This interview was taken by Our Special Correspondent)