Chhattisgarh Food, Planning and Culture Department Minister Amarjeet Bhagat exclusively spoke to The Free Press Journal over burning issues of the state and his department. Here are the excerpts of the interview.
How is your Government tackling elephant problems in the state as well as your district Surguja which is highly affected?
Increased number of human-elephant conflicts is the outcome of dwindling forest cover. In some areas of our state we are facing elephant related problems. Apart from destruction of properties, continuous loss of human and elephant lives was reported. However, after we came into power, our government has continuously tried to improve the situation. We have increased the compensation amount, carried out several innovative experiments to minimize human-animal conflict, constituted special teams to alert the villagers and save their lives, provided training to our forest forces, organized awareness camps for villagers, provided equipment, installed solar fences to drive the elephants in forests.
Government started putting paddy into the way through which elephants pass. Why ?
It has been found that elephants used to raid the houses where paddy got stored. Its smell attracts them. Therefore, as a part of a pilot project, our government started putting paddy in the pathways through which elephant herds use to move. And the places where jumbos ate paddy, they stayed in the jungle. It prevented the wild elephants from entering human habitats. However, if the initiative remained successful, we would implement the project in the state.
It is heard that your government is planning to provide universal food cover to the migrant labourers. Is that right?
Our government is very much concerned about migrant labourers and safeguarding their interests. We tried our best to provide full support to the migrant labourers during the lockdown and Covid crisis. Apart from starting call centres, quarantine centres, we tried our best to provide transport facilities, food and shelter to the migrant labourers. In comparison to the centre, we have provided double the quantity of food to the migrant labourers. Now, the government has planned to provide universal food safety cover to the migrant labourers by implementing a one-nation-one card policy. Secondly, the landless labourers will also be provided benefits under Rajiv Gandhi Kishan Nyay Yojana. Under which they will be provided Rs 6000 a year.
Which type of personality is CM Bhupesh Baghel?
He is a man of stubborn personality. Once he gives word he will work on it. In the context of paddy support price, and loan waiver, despite central government indifference over it, the CM gave loan waiver to farmers, he came with Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojana to support the farmers. He is an iron-will man who is connected with the roots.
Out of 36, only 14 promises mentioned in the manifesto were fulfilled, the CM stated publicly. How do you see it?
Our government is focused on fulfilling prominent promises which cover and benefit the majority section of the population. Farmers which covers around 80% of the rural population and are main drivers of growth of rural areas, if our government helped them what wrong has occurred. As far as other promises are concerned our government is striving hard to achieve it.
Your government failed to implement liquor ban in the state, why ?
Our government has not failed; rather it doesn't want to coerce people by bringing a complete liquor ban in the state. The states like Gujarat, Bihar which prohibited liquor sale, wine and others easily available through illegal means. However, I am sure our government is determined to bring a liquor ban but for that it is trying to create an atmosphere by running awareness drives.