“Chhattisgarh registered high growth in agriculture”—Chandrashekhar Sahu
Mr Chandrashekhar Sahu, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Pisci Culture, Labour, Chhattisgarh government, feels proud to say that there is no farmer suicide in Chhattisgarh. A down-to-earth leader, Mr Sahu has a vision for the uplift of the poor people of the tribal-dominated state, Chhattisgarh. In an interview to Uday India Correspondents Dinesh Jindal and Sonia Chawla, Mr Sahu explains his vision for the development of the state. Excerpts:
What is the current situation of agriculture in Chhattisgarh?
Chhattisgarh is a state, which marked potentially successful and expected high growth in the field of agriculture. To bring about self-sufficiency in this field, our government is focussing on the micro irrigation resources so as to increase our productivity. According to Rajiv Sanskratik Vibhag, the GDP growth of our state is the highest as compared to Bihar and Gujarat in last few years.
What are your future plans for the further improvement of the agriculture sector?
We want to establish four developmental interlinked “Ps” in agricultural sector, namely, production, productivity, procurement and prosperity for overall growth and development. In last ten years, the area for crop cultivation has increased by 10.5 lakh hectares, in which pulses and tilhans have been produced increasingly. Our government is not only concentrating on providing two square meals to those living below the poverty line by promulgating new schemes, but also making proper plans for their implementation.
Inputs and technology are two factors supporting the agriculture. For proper inputs, 10,45,000 farmer credit cards have been provided to farmers, with which they can take loans at reduced interest rates. The National Centre Survey showed that 40 per cent farmers are not willing to work in this sector, so we are making efforts to convince them. Instead of using the chemical fertilizers, bio-agriculture farming is also encouraged. Recently, 84 lakh tonnes of rice was purchased for the needy people on which Rs 4,000 crore were spent. Now all BPL people are getting rice and wheat at a price of Re 1 or Rs 2 per kg.
Chhattisgarh is a Maoist-affected state. What steps has your government taken to contain the Maoist menace?
In Chhattisgarh, Maoism has been effectively tackled by implementing a series of welfare measures. Our government took the initiatives in reaching out to those living in the Maoist-affected regions by providing basic amenities systematically. For, Maoist menace can be tackled by acting decisively on the perpetrators of violence and simultaneously trying to win the hearts of the people by ushering in flawless development activity in all the Maoist-affected regions.
As mining is going on in Chhattisgarh, many industries have come forward. Is this affecting the farmers?
We are aware of the growing difficulties of the farmers due to increase in mining activities. Therefore, to protect their legitimate rights, Land and Agriculture Preservation Law was promulgated, which was also on BJP’s agenda.
Districtwise, farmers in which districts have been affected the most because of the mining?
Farmers in Janaki and Raygarh districts were affected the most. But now we have changed our policy as 1 lakh acres of land has converted into non-fertile land due to mining. So we have made a policy to use the barren and encroached land for mining only.
In different parts of the country, farmers under extreme pressure take the drastic step of committing suicide. As an Agriculture Minister what would you like to say?
It is a matter of great concern that farmers are committing suicides in Vidarbha in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and other parts of the country. However, there are no suicide cases in Chhattisgarh. And we are trying our best that it should not happen in our state.
Have you introduced any labour reforms?
Yes, Industrial Safety, Employment Guarantee, and Regular Compensation schemes have been introduced for the benefit of the labourer. Furthermore, if any accident happens, Rs 10,000 will be provided to the victim. We also revised the skilled and unskilled labour wage rates, which have not been done for a long time.