In less than two decades since its formation, Chattisgarh has carved an independent identity for itself shedding the baggage of the past and adopting best practices for governance. This year, the state has ranked 18th in the SKOCH State of Governance 2019 study by showcasing its efforts in the areas of child health, education and business attractiveness.
Chhattisgarh falls in the Red Corridor and has had developmental hindrances due to violence, loss of resources and damage to public property. 10 out of its 27 districts that are affected by radical anti-social forces feature at the bottom of the social and economic development graph. However, with the new leadership, the development framework of the state has advanced remarkably.
Chhattisgarh is inhabited by rural communities and indigenous tribes and reaching out to them has been a challenge. NITI Aayog’s state assessment on overall health parameters suggests that the state falls back on the Health Index. But the survey of 2018 showed improvement in the ranking with 459 new sub-centres, 72 new Primary Health Centers (PHC), and 33 new Community Health Centers (CHC) functioning in the state.
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The transformation in administration and policymaking has had a cascading effect, which reflects in the state’s ranking at fifth position in Municipal Governance, seventh for Municipal Sanitation and 10th for e-Governance.
This mineral-rich state at the heart of India has coveted locations for mining of coal, iron ore, limestone, bauxite, dolomite, manganese ore, gold and copper.
Recently, the state announced a new industrial policy focusing on MSMEs in non-core sectors like aerospace engineering, food processing etc, which can be considered as a successive effect to pave way for job opportunities and rope in major investments. The rise in e-commerce, expansion of buyers’ market, ease of sourcing etc has led to an increase in demand for tussar and kosa silks and especially raw silk in Chhattisgarh. Skill development initiatives are aligned with industrial growth, which brings Chhattisgarh among the top 5 states in India on the Skill Development Rank.
To support the industries and allied businesses, an electric Broad-Gauge Line of approximately 294 km was announced to increase the passenger and freight career connectivity. This line is majorly chalked out to cover the potential remote areas of Chhattisgarh.
A major part of Chhattisgarh falls under the rice-agro-climatic zone. A broader framework to tackle the flood-draught situations was included in the Chhattisgarh Water Sustainability Bill of 2019, announcing a people-centred decentralised water management system for surface and groundwater. This comes along with the waiver of outstanding irrigation taxes worth Rs 207 crore for the farmers.
Chhattisgarh with its abundant natural ecosystems is now methodically working towards thematic tourism in the state. The “Development of Tribal Circuit” was recently launched under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism. The circuit covers around 13 tribal sites that will become an integral part of the tourist experience. It aims to attract more tourists and foster development of the tribal areas.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is leading the transformation in the state. Just 3 months after taking charge of the office, Baghel expressed his vision;
“Chhattisgarh is predominantly rural, and we want to make our villages self-sufficient. Empowering our villagers will require an all-inclusive approach of systematically leveraging on available resources to create more business opportunities, supported by infrastructure and connectivity; while maintaining the ecological sustainability. Our Yojanas and initiatives will take into consideration the benefits for all the stakeholders.”
Many of the state’s initiatives made it to the SKOCH State of Governance shortlist for 2019. But the most remarkable one of them has been the ‘Bal Chaupal’ initiative from Women and Child Development department.
Bal Chaupal is an open forum held in rural areas for educating the villagers on child welfare and child rights. An immediate effect of Bal Chaupal was seen in a drastic reduction in child marriages. Bal Chaupal has progressively reformed the child welfare, child health and education scenario in rural Chhattisgarh. WCD Officers conduct chaupals in the presence of village leaders and school principals, which triggers a sense of involvement and optimism among the patrons.
It has been observed that while a Bal Chaupal is held at a village, neighbouring village leaders proactively invite the WCD team to conduct a similar forum at their village too. Such is the wave of enthusiasm and social commitment created by Bal Chaupal for all age-groups. Children, the actual beneficiaries of these chaupals, are taking charge to empower themselves and are actively participating in the discussions.
Chhattisgarh has commendably risen from its tribal image to a state that is harnessing the resources to create potential opportunities and contributing considerably to the Indian economy. Steadily, the state is strengthening each touchpoint of social, economic and industrial ecosystems.