Thursday, May 22, 2008

`Bastar among India’s 10 most backward districts’

Raipur, May 21 (IANS) Chhattisgarh’s worst insurgency-hit tribal dominated Bastar and Dantewada districts are among the 10 most backward districts of the country, said a report released by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). The CSE, a Delhi-based environmental organisation, in a 365-page report released Tuesday evening here, said “the iron-ore bearing districts of Bastar and Dantewada are among the 10 most backward district of the country. Clearly, riches from the mining industry are not reaching the people”.

The report, “Rich Lands, Poor People - Is Sustainable Mining Possible”, released by Governor E.S.L Narasimhan and Sunita Narain, director, CSE claimed: “Chhattisgarh performs poorly in terms of human development indicators. Almost all its districts feature in the 150 backward district lists of India.”

The report that is largely focussed on Chhattisgarh has irked the state government and it issued a 12-page statement Tuesday questioning the authenticity of the report.

“The report appears to be a compilation of hand-picked material/portions from unverified newspapers reports, public statements made by certain people and perceptions of persons who believe in certain philosophy and hold their own point of view,” said the Chhattisgarh government in a written statement.

The government statement claimed: “The report contains a large number of factual inaccuracies, sweeping remarks and unfounded criticism of the state government based on conjectures and surmises”.

But the CSE press statement said: “Chhattisgarh holds the distinction of ranking second in terms of forest land diverted for mining in the country. For instance, one-third of Dantewada’s forests have been degraded due to mining activities”.

“Pollution of water resources and degradation of forests topped by large scale land acquisition have badly affected the state’s large tribal population. Almost 40 percent of Chhattisgarh’s tribals have been displaced by mining and industrial projects,” it said.

“The degradation and displacement has had social implications as well. The widespread discontent and conflict has been translated into the growing influence of Naxalism in the state,” it added.

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