RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh was in the news in 2014 for all the wrong reasons be it increasing Maoist strikes resulting in heavy losses to lives of security forces or the death of 13 young women after surgeries at state-run sterilisation camps in Bilaspur.
The Raman Singh government remained busy warding off Opposition attacks on many fronts, including the anti-counter insurgency operation after a series of Naxal attacks, health facilities after loss of lives following tubectomies and death of newborn infants in Bilaspur and farmers issue over paddy procurement.
The year, however, brought some cheers to cricket lovers as the Raipur-based international stadium hosted eight matches of Champions League T-20 tournament and students, particularly from the tribal region, as the Centre cleared the process of setting up a national tribal university in Bastar.
Singh faced worst criticism from Opposition Congress after the botched sterilisation tragedy in Bilaspur in November which claimed lives of 13 women and left over a 100 critical.
While 12 of the 83 women, who were operated upon at Pendari village on November 8 died, a Baiga tribe woman was the lone casualty from the camps at Pendra block, where around 56 women underwent surgeries at three different camps on November 10, after they developed post operative complications.
Under attack from Opposition and women associations, Singh constituted a judicial commission to probe the incident and terminated the services of laproscopic surgeon R K Gupta who had conducted the sterilisation at Pendari camp and Chief Medical and Health Official Bilaspur R K Bhange supervising the procedure.
An FIR was registered against Gupta following which he was arrested. Three officials of Health and Food and Drug department were also suspended.
Moreover, Ramesh Mahawar, director of drug company-Mahawar Pharma Pvt Ltd which supplied "poor quality" medicines, and his son Sumit, were arrested and all products of their manufacturing unit banned in the state.
According to state Health Minister Amar Agrawal, medical reports confirmed the presence of poisonous substance in the medicines distributed at the tubectomies camps.
Congress also blamed the state government for "poor health facilities" following the deaths of at least 15 infants, most of them reportedly born premature, at the state-run Chhattisgarh Institute Medical Science in December.
Throughout the year, the state faced one deadly Maoist attack after another in which as many as 62 security personnel were killed. Thirty-five Naxals were gunned down by security forces while 32 civilians were killed in Maoist-related incidents.
On February 28, Naxals targeted a police patrolling party and killed five personnel, including a Station House Officer (SHO) in Dantewada.
With the pain of the attack yet to die down, the outlawed rebels carried another ambush, the deadliest of the year, killing 11 CRPF personnel, four state police jawans and a civilian on March 11 in Tongpal area of Sukma.
The twin attacks in a span of around 10 days, were an alarming indication for the security forces as the Lok Sabha elections were scheduled to be held in the state in April.
Two days after polling in Bastar region for general elections, seven members of a polling party and five CRPF personnel were among 13 killed as Naxals struck twice on April 12 in a gap of less than an hour, blowing up a bus carrying polling parties and an ambulance in Bijapur and Bastar districts respectively.
Paramilitaries suffered another blow in the last month of the year as they lost 13 CRPF personnel on December 1 in a Maoist attack in a dense forests of Chintagufa in Sukma prompting the opposition Congress to raise question over state's strategy to take on menace of Naxalism.
The attack once again forced the state machinery to revamp its security measure in naxal dominated region and review its anti-Naxal strategies. However, there was a controversy when the blood stained uniforms of the deceased CRPF jawans were found in a garbage dump outside a hospital where their postmortem was done.
Facing flak from all quarters, the state government ordered a magisterial enquiry while CRPF also ordered a probe.
"We know we have lost a large number of our men this year in counter insurgency operations but the morale of the forces are high as they have penetrated into those core areas of Maoists in Bastar where security personnel had never dared to enter," a senior police official said.
"734 Naxals were arrested and 394 cadres, most of them lower rung members, surrendered so far this year," he said.
On the political front, BJP repeated its 2009 general elections' performance and posted victory in 10 out of 11 Lok Sabha seats which went to polls in April in three phases. Congress failed to improve its tally and managed to grab only one seat.
In June, leakage of poisonous gas in the Steel Authority of India Limited's Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) in Durg district resulted in death of six people, including two deputy general managers and injuring around 30.
In July, the Opposition Congress tried in vain to corner Assembly Speaker Gaurishankar Agrawal over an alleged encroachment of land on banks of Kharun river in the outskirts of Raipur by a trust managed by him and his relatives.
The ruling BJP was at the centre of criticism in October when it decided to limit procurement of paddy from farmers to 10 quintal per acre. Congress as well as several farmers' associations claimed that the decision will cause huge losses to farmers as paddy production in the state varies between 15 and 25 quintals per acre and staged statewide protest.
On November 4, the chief minister announced that paddy will be procured at 15 quintals per acre at MSP from the farmers revising its earlier decision to purchase only 10 quintal paddy per acre.
A two-day-long religious conclave convened by Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati of Dwarka Peeth in Kabirdham district in August also grabbed media attention.
The conclave passed a resolution that Sai Baba of Shirdi should not be worshiped as a deity by the followers of 'sanatan dharma'.