RAIPUR: President Ramnath Kovind reached Chhattisgarh Wednesday on a two-day visit, which the state government is trying to use to project the 'transformation' of Bastar from a backward, Maoist hotbed to a 'safe and developing' region with immense potential for tourism and investment.
The state government asserts that in recent years, the ground situation has immensely improved in Bastar, which had been a virtual war-zone during over three decades of violence and armed conflict with Left-Wing Extremists. The President is on a scheduled visit to the Dantewada, which has seen many incidents of attack on security forces by the Maoists, and Jagdalpur, the district headquarters of Bastar.
In Dantewada, one of worst Naxal-affected districts in the country, the President interacted with students at the Education City and met tribal farmers engaged in organic and integrated farming. He appreciated the work of various women self-help groups who have trained and secured employments for many women.
He had lunch with the children of RSS-affiliated Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and shared with them the sweets he brought with him from the Rashtrapati Bhavan. He also took a ride on e-rickshaw and met the tribal youths at a business process outsourcing (BPO) centre at Dantewada.
In the past, three Presidents had visited Bastar. But Kovind will be the first to stay for the night. Adequate security has been deployed in the region.
"There is a perceptible change in Bastar, with greater road and mobile connectivity and an airport recently inaugurated by the Prime Minister. The progress and development is having an appreciable, positive impact on the life of the tribals. The serenity of the place, vast dense forests, lovely tourist attractions and rich tribal culture makes Bastar truly amazing," Chief Minister Raman Singh asserted.
The state government affirmed that the Maoist presence is now restricted to interior pockets of south Bastar only. The state has set the deadline to free Bastar zone from the Maoist influence by 2022.