“Electricity to Every House by June this year”: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh
The Jangla visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on April 14 not only challenged the Naxals in their fort, but also won the heart of the people who have been suffering under the red terror for several decades. This visit also boosted the confidence of the state machinery. Organiser Sr Correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh in Raipur on April 15 to know how he instrumented a positive change in Bastar region. Excerpts:
Why Bijapur was selected for PM’s visit?
The PM selected Bijapur because the District received top marking among the identified apparitional districts. It is good that the District was selected for the launch of the country’s prestigious health scheme. About 75 per cent people of Bijapur will be benefited from this scheme. The PM was happy to note the functioning of BPOs in such a remote area.
The Naxals opposed the event very strongly?
They campaigned in villages warning the people not to attend it. But the response of public was very enthusiastic. Naxals oppose every developmental activity—road, electricity, education, health, everything. They do not want the government to provide anything to the people. Therefore, we have to face double challenge in this region—creating infrastructure and ensuring protection to those doing work. We have reached this stage doing all this every day.
How much area is still in their control?
Hardly 15 per cent area is influenced by them. Roads and electricity have helped us win the trust of the people. Electricity acts as a big catalyst. One who enjoys light once does not want to live in the dark. We are trying to ensure electricity to every house. We are also distributing smart phones to everyone in those areas. About 55 lakh people are to be provided with mobile phones under the sky scheme. It will cover all the college students. The distribution of phones will begin in the end of May when the Vikas Yatra begins.
You have made Jangla a model Panchayat. How it all happened?
Four-five types of activities were going on there. In the areas, where women avoided visiting a doctor during pregnancy, our workers ensured institutional deliveries. Equally, the PDS centre is working well there. Panchayat has also done good work. Bastar was the only region where about 150 km NH was incomplete. This year we have completed it in Jagdalpur, Sukma, Dantewada and Bijapur. It has been completed up to the last village, Konda. Many bridges have been built. Earlier, it was difficult to travel 100 km during rainy season.
Bastar has now changed. Development is visible everywhere. The educational hubs in Javanga and Bijapur are wonderful experiments. Our hospital in Bijapur is nothing but a super specialty hospital. There are 36 doctors who conduct 500 operations in a year. About 2.5 lakh people are benefited. There is special wing for women and children with 150 beds. Specialists have been hired from Tamil Nadu, J&K, UP, Bihar, etc. Many came from AIIMS also.
Since Naxals still have influence in some areas, how would you ensure execution of the schemes launched on April 14 in those areas?
We are upgrading our hospitals and will set up more health centres. Our hospitals and health workers will handle it smoothly. There will be no problem in execution.
Do you not talk to the Naxals to join mainstream?
A large number of misguided youth are coming back. We have ensured their proper rehabilitation. There is no meaning of talking to the lower cadre. Unless any Polit Bureau member talks, any dialogue is meaningless because the issue affects six states.
Your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement is PDS. I am proud of it. This has made an impact in the lives of people. There is remarkable reduction in infant mortality rate (IMR), maternal mortality rate (MMR), malnutrition and migration. I know survival for the people was very difficult before the launch of this scheme. Now they have at least guarantee of getting food. They had to exchange their costly forest produces merely for salt. We provided them salt free of cost. I feel it is a beginning. A lot is still to be done. We are very close to the stage when we will provide electricity to every household in the entire state. No house will remain in dark after June this year. About 6.40 lakh people are to be provided electricity. The families in some areas like in Sukma will be provided with solar lanterns. The Naxals there damage the electricity poles. So, we provided lanterns to the school students. It was done because the parents fear coming to the distribution centres.
You mentioned rural BPOs. Who provides them work?
There are different companies. We also provide work in order to monitor our schemes. A person has to make 50 calls in a day to ascertain whether the people are getting benefits of the schemes, whether the ration has been distributed, whether Patwari is working, etc. They help us monitoring all our 24 schemes in all 27 districts and 90 Assembly segments. They communicate to the people in their local dialects like Halbi, Gondi, Chhattisgarhi, Bhadri, etc.