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Chhattisgarh

CAPITAL RAIPUR
AREA IN Sq. km 135,100
PRINCIPAL LANGUAGES HINDI, CHHATTISGARHI

CHHATTISGARH: THE TWENTYSIXTH STATE OF INDIA

On November 1, 2000, India gave birth to a new state-Chhattisgarh. The new state is carved out of India’s largest state of Madhya Pradesh with an area of 443,000 square kilometers. Though Chhattisgarh with an area of 135,194 square kilometers accounts for only 30 per cent of the total area of Chhattisgarh, it is still a considerable size, which is equivalent to almost sixteen times the size of Kerala. The demand for the new state can be traced to a meeting of the Raipur district Congress in 1924 when the idea of a separate entity of Chhattisgarh was mooted. The leaders who took part in that meeting were of the view that the region of Chhattisgarh was culturally and historically distinct from the rest of Madhya Pradesh. The political leaders are hailing the creation of the new state of Chhattisgarh as a right direction towards bringing prosperity and stability of both the states concerned- Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. However concerns are being voiced from some quarters that the bifurcation of the largest state of Madhya Pradesh may lead to opening of floodgates of similar more demands from separatist groups cultural and historical uniqueness. India’s latest state will have its Capital at Raipur and the High Court at Bilaspur. The Capital may be shifted later to Nandghat, about midway between Raipur and Bilaspur on the banks of the Shivnad River. Bastar, Bilaspur, Dantewara, Dhamtari, Durg, Janjgir, Jashpur, Kanker, Kavardha, Korba, Mahasamund, Raigarh, Raipur, Rajnandgaon, Sarguja and West Sarguja are the sixteen districts of Chhattisgarh. Of the 320 MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, 90 belong to the districts of Chhattisgarh. They will become the members of the Legislative Assembly of the new state. Lok sabha will see 11 members from the state while Rajya Sabha will have five members from the same state. The newly formed state is richly endowed with natural resources. Its forest revenue which alone accounts for 44% of the total state’s forest revenue has been the main source of income of Madhya Pradesh. It has rich deposits of limestone, iron-ore, copper-ore, rock phosphate, manganese ore, bauxite, coal, asbestos and mica that contribute to around 48% of Madhya Pradesh’s revenue from minerals. Agriculture is the main activity for the population of 1,76,00,000 of this landlocked state enveloped by Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh and of course Madhya Pradesh. 80% of the population is engaged in agriculture which is one crop a year. Known as the Rice Bowl of India, the region of Chhattisgarh supplies food grain to 600 rice mills. However, in spite of its abundant natural resources and manpower pool, Chhattisgarh remains a poverty stricken and socially backward region. A cursory look at some parameters will reveal this fact. Take literacy rate, as high as 81.3 per cent of the population above 19 years of the district of Bastar is illiterate. The rest of the state is slightly better in this respect. 49% of the households do not have drinking water. 68% of the households do not have an electricity connection (though it produces more power than it consumes; Chhattisgarh contributes 35.66% of total power generated in Madhya Pradesh). Infant mortality is high: 84 deaths per thousand live births against the national average of 71%. 41% of the women worked as labourers in the grueling activities (the national average is just 22.3). About half of its female population gets married between the ages of 15 and 19. Now with a new government in place for Chhattisgarh, there are valid reasons to hope that the general condition of the state will improve, if not dramatically.

ECONOMY

The mineral rich State is economically very poor. It will have to depend on the nighbouring states of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Agriculturally it is a very productive area. Called the country's Rice Bowl, it supplies foodgrain to almost 600 rice mills. With substantial deposits of limestone, iron-ore, copper ore, rock phosphate, manganese ore, bauxite, coal,asbestos and mica, Chhattisgarh is one of the minieral rich State of India.Chhattisgarh contains about 525 million tonnes of dolomite reserves, accounting for 24 per cent of the country's share.It has healthy bauxite reserves of an estimated 73 million tonnes, an impressive reserves of iron ore at about 2,000 million tonnes and coal at 29,000 million tonnes. Tin ore reserves exceed 27,000 million tonnes. The mineral revenue that will accrue to Chhattisgarh will exceed Rs 600 crore annually. Deobogh in Raipur district contains deposits of diamonds. Prospecting of diamonds has begun here and when extraction starts in about two years' time, it is expected to generate an additional RS 2,000 crore a year for the state. Chhattisgarh also accounts for more than 70 per cent of India's total production of tendu leaves that are used for making bidis. But despite the high levels of productivity with natural and mineral resources, Chhattisgarh has remained backward because the money earned is not ploughed back into the region. Poverty pervades the 16 districts comprising the region. As a result, the region has for long nursed a grudge against the rest of Madhya Pradesh which has treated Chhattisgarh like a colony.