5 Reasons Why Chhattisgarh Recovered Faster From Pandemic Slowdown
Investgarh Chhattisgarh: 5 Reasons Why Chhattisgarh Recovered Faster From Pandemic Slowdown
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When the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill and wreaked havoc on economies, some Indian states fought back harder and smarter to stave off an economic slowdown. Chhattisgarh is one such state and the result of innovative policies and implementation has been that the state has bounced back far quicker than expected. The state also managed to control the Covid-19 outbreak better than many other states. The state's growth story is also showing a sharp rise. Here are some of the things that the Bhupesh Baghel government did right to defeat the pandemic slowdown and achieve mega growth for Chhattisgarh.
1. Food safety through PDS
As the nationwide lockdown was announced, a crisis for food started looming for the large population, especially for poor and daily wage earners. Quick and effective implementation of state-wide free ration supplies was the way out of this suddenly forced shutdown of all economic activities. The challenge was to ensure food security for every person in Chhattisgarh.
The Bhupesh Baghel government was quick to announce relief by announcing free rice for all beneficiaries under the Public Distribution System, and Antyodaya and Annapurna ration cardholders also received free sugar and salt. Two quintals of rice allocation were done for every gram panchayat in the state. This help was given to benefit individuals who didn't have ration cards, subject to a maximum of 5 kg for an individual. Other than that, 4 kg of rice was provided at the primary school level, and 6 kg at the upper primary school level, under the mid-day meal scheme. For undernourished children aged 3-6 in Aanganwadi centres, ready to eat nutritious food was provided regularly to ensure health and food security.
The government approved sanctioning of MLA funds for Covid prevention and support. To give relief to state government officials and employees, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel announced zero deduction from their salaries. Also, the state's labour department sanctioned ₹3.8 crore to aid labourers who were affected during lockdowns. The government also waived nearly ₹331 crore in pending taxes, interest, and penalties for bus and truck operators to minimise the financial impact on them.
2. Health crisis management
Effective mechanisms put in place for patient handling and protection of healthcare workers helped the state in containing the fallout of the virus. The government issued several guidelines for the early and effective management of the pandemic. To prevent the spread of the virus at industries and workplaces, various necessary procedures and notifications were implemented. These included ensuring sanitisation and restricting the number of employees at workplaces. Guidelines regarding bio-medical waste in quarantine homes and centres were also notified and implemented swiftly. These guidelines ensured that all the waste collection workers were provided high quality personal protective equipment. Further, vehicles carrying such waste were sanitised with 1% hypochlorite after every trip. The state health department ensured that patients who recovered from Covid-19 were escorted to their home district from the hospital, with regular monitoring and supervision of their well-being by district administrations.
To the state government's credit, effective management practices were put in place to ensure proper functioning of hospital and medical services. As far as possible, mildly ill patients were advised on the phone and provided appointments for in-person doctor consultations to reduce spread of the virus. Online health consultations for patients were announced by the Chief Minister, which helped the patients get free of cost advice from doctors.
3. Keeping the agricultural engine running
Keeping the agricultural economy running was a key point that CM Bhupesh Baghel made while answering a question on successfully managing the state economy during the pandemic. He stated that the key to combat the Covid impact on the state's economy was to keep the agriculture economy running smoothly. A pioneering scheme to turn cow dung into cash was launched during the peak of the pandemic in July. The state government procured 52 minor forest produce items from gatherers at the support price. This benefitted the sizeable tribal population of the state. The government waived farm loans and procured paddy at rates higher than the minimum support price (MSP) to benefit the rural economy. An increased rate of ₹2,500 per quintal and enhanced payment for tendu/beedi leaf collection gave a much-needed respite to those involved in these agricultural activities. The Baghel government started the 'Narva, Gharwa, Guruva, Baadi' scheme to provide a holistic developmental model to rural Chhattisgarh. The programme protects water resources, cattle wealth, the environment and strengthens the finances of rural households. The innovative scheme was started three years ago, right after the Bhupesh Baghel government came to power, and it has played a vital role in providing necessary food through baadi or the kitchen gardens and energy needs through cow dung.
4. Ensuring zero disruption in school education
During the entire period when Covid-19 was ravaging the world, the Chhattisgarh state government ensured that education and meals for anganwadi children were not hampered. And equally important was to care for those students who lost their parents in the pandemic. Recognizing this crisis for young students in the early days of Covid-19, the Chhattisgarh government decided to fund the education of such students. This is being done through the Chhattisgarh Mahtari Dular Yojna, which ensured no student left studies after losing their parents. Under the scheme, a monthly stipends are provided. The state government also funded children who lost a breadwinner in their families and prioritised their admissions to the state-run, high-quality Swami Atmanand English Medium Schools.
5. Employment focus
Chhattisgarh has been one of the best performing states in implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MNREGA) scheme. This was a much-needed relief and an effective method to keep the economy running. It proved to be a boon for lakhs of workers employed under MNREGA. Even before the Covid outbreak, the state made excellent use of MNREGA. Incentives to industries and businesses to prevent layoffs of workers were also provided.
With a massive nationwide reverse migration of workers, Chhattisgarh also saw workers flocking back to their homes from various states. A rough estimate puts this number at around 700,000 workers. But a great indicator of successful economic management during the pandemic was that only 26,000 workers went out of the state again. The efficient Covid management resulted in Chhattisgarh winning over Covid-19 on every front.