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Development of people more important than building roads: Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel

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Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel is set to complete one year in office in December. In an interview, he said vishwas (confidence), vikas (development) and suraksha (security) are most important for people. He added that development does not mean building of roads and buildings, but the development of people through health, education and jobs. Edited excerpts:

How do you look back at the 10-month journey as chief minister of Chhattisgarh?

We had been in Opposition for 15 years. At that time we used to take up the issues of the people in the assembly, as well as on the roads. Now we are in power, but we continue to work for the people. Whatever we have seen, heard and experienced, we are now implementing it on the ground. We continue to work hard for farmers, the youth, tribals and women.

What are the biggest challenges as chief minister?

The biggest challenge in Chhattisgarh is that 37.6% of the children are malnourished, and 41.5% girls and women in the age group of 14 years to 49 years are anaemic. If our children and women remain weak then what will happen to the future generations?

International data shows that India is below Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. We have taken this as a challenge and we want Chhattisgarh to end malnourishment.

Since health is a major problem area for the state, what steps have you taken to improve the situation?

The issue is that the financially weaker section comprise 39.9% of the population. (Therefore), the state government has decided to provide medical coverage of up to ₹20 lakh (per household), as the Ayushman Bharat scheme, which provides up to ₹5 lakh medical coverage, does not help in case of a major ailment. The Union government only provides ₹50,000 in the central scheme and the remaining ₹4.5 lakh is given by the state government.

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