About Chhattisgarh

Photo: Samrat Mandal/UNDP India

Chhattisgarh came into existence as a state on 1 November 2000 by partitioning 16 south-eastern districts of undivided Madhya Pradesh. It shares its border with six states, namely Odisha in the east, Jharkhand in the north-east, Madhya Pradesh in the north-west, Uttar Pradesh in the north, Maharashtra in the west and Andhra Pradesh in the south. The state is endowed with a rich cultural heritage that includes its varied crafts, folk dance, food and theatre, and attractive natural diversity. It is also home to some of India’s ancient caves, finest waterfalls, picturesque palaces, temples, Buddhist sites, rock paintings, hill plateaus and rare wildlife. While the northern and southern parts of the state are hilly, the central part is fertile plain. Mountains, plateaus and plains constitute roughly a third each of the state’s physiography. Major rivers of the state include Mahanadi, Indravati, Godavari, Narmada, Hasdo, Shivnath and Arpa. Identified as one of the richest biodiversity habitats in the country, Chhattisgarh has one of the densest forests in India, rich wildlife, several species of exotic flora and fauna and abundant non-timber forest products, with tremendous potential for value addition.

Following its formation as a state, the nine original districts were further bifurcated, and as a result, the state now has 27 district administrative units. In the last phase of reorganization of districts, nine new districts were created and notified on 26 January 2012 to bring administration and governance closer to people, and also to address the spatial and other challenges that the state faces.


Photo: Samrat Mandal/UNDP India

With a geographical area of 135,000 sq km, Chhattisgarh is the tenth largest state in India. It is also an important electricity and steel producing state of India with nearly 15 percent of the country’s steel produced here. In fact, it is one of the few states of the country that is power surplus and is preparing to position itself as the power hub of the country. Not only this, but nearly 15 percent of India’s cement production, 30 percent of aluminum and 27 percent of steel and sponge iron is also produced in Chhattisgarh. Other minerals found in Chhattisgarh include coal, iron-ore, bauxite, tin, dolomite and limestone. The state also has mega industries in sectors like steel, power, aluminum and cement.

Human Development

Photo: Samrat Mandal/UNDP India

Chhattisgarh accounts for two percent of India’s population, of which 23 percent live in urban areas and the remaining 77 percent in rural areas1. The urban population has increased by 42 percent over the last decade. The population density of the state is one of the lowest at 189 per square kilometer with the national average at 324 per square km and is primarily concentrated in the central plains region, which also hosts many of the mega industries of the state. Chhattisgarh is also known as the ‘rice bowl’ of central India, with rice grown on about 77 percent of the net sown area.

Of the total population of 25.54 million, 11.61 percent represent scheduled castes and 31.76 percent are scheduled tribes. With the exception of the hilly states of the north-east, Chhattisgarh has one of the highest shares of ST population within a state, accounting for about 10 percent of the STs in India2. The sex ratio of 991 females for 1,000 males is one of the best in India, as is the child sex ratio with 964 females per 1,000 males3. The literacy rate, on the other hand, has improved steadily from 42.91 percent in 1991 to 64.66 percent in 2001 to 71.04 in 2011, which is just below the national average of 74 percent. However, with 81.45 percent male literacy and 60.59 percent female literacy, the gender gap in literacy at 20.89 percent is one of the highest in the country. In addition to this, the health index of the state is also one of the lowest in the country at 0.49 percent. Other health indicators such as the percentage of women with BMI<18.5 at 43.3 percent; Under Five Mortality Rate at 90.3 percent; and underweight children (0-5 years) at 47.1 percent are also poor despite different health-related schemes and programmes introduced by the government4. Further, female malnutrition in the state is also higher than the national average with half of the ST females malnourished.

Besides poor literacy and health indicators, the state also fares badly on human development indicators. With a Human Development Index (HDI) value of only 0.358, Chhattisgarh ranks last out of 23 states5. This is due to a number of factors including a high poverty rate. According to the Tendulkar Committee Report 2009, about 49.4 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. However, if factors beyond income are considered (Multidimensional Poverty Index)6, about 69.7 percent of the state’s population is poor, which is way over the national average of 53.7 percent. Of these, nearly 0.54 million poor live in urban areas.

By contrast, on economic indicators, Chhattisgarh seems to be one of the emerging states with relatively high growth rates of Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) at 8.2 percent and per capita NSDP at 6.2 percent7. The state has also experienced a consistent growth in its Gross State Domestic Product since its formation, and had a Compounded Annual Growth rate of 9.74 percent between 2001 and 2011.


Photo: Samrat Mandal/UNDP India

At 55,674 sq km, which is 41.18 percent of its geographical area, Chhattisgarh has the third largest area under forest cover after Madhya Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. In other words, 12 percent of India's forests are in Chhattisgarh. Of this, three percent is under very dense forests, 25.82 percent is moderately dense, 12.28 percent is open forests and 0.09 percent is scrub8. The forest ecosystem of the state comprises sal forests, teak forests and mixed forests and is fairly rich in biodiversity. As per the latest Status of Forest Report 2011, there has been a net decrease of 192 sq kms in the forest cover from 2009.

The three national parks and 11 forest sanctuaries of the state, covering 0.29 million hectare and 0.36 million hectare respectively, are home to several exotic and endangered species of flora such as Santalum album, Vitex trifolia and Curcuma pseudomontana and fauna such as forest owlet, wild buffalo and hill myna. As per the state survey, nearly 2,021 species of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of the state have been identified as those associated with cure and prevention of different diseases.


Photo: Samrat Mandal/UNDP India

Agriculture is the major economic occupation of the state with the net sown area of the state at 4.828 million hectares and the gross sown area at 5.788 million hectares. Major crops of the state include paddy, wheat, maize, gram, pulses and oilseeds. Around 83 percent of the sown area in the Kharif agriculture season is under paddy. With only 20 percent of the area under irrigation, agriculture in the state is highly vulnerable and dependent on monsoons. Due to this and use of traditional methods of cultivation, the productivity of rice and other crops in the state is very low. The yield per hectare of all the major crops (excluding pulses) is nearly two-thirds the national average. Small and marginal farmers constitute about 75 percent of the total cultivators engaged in agriculture in Chhattisgarh. Besides agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry also engage a major share of the population. According to the Livestock Census 2007, the livestock population of Chhattisgarh stands at 14.42 million.

Cropping pattern
About 80 percent of the total agriculture production happens in kharif growing season due to poor irrigation facilities in the state. As a result, just seven percent of the state’s geographical area is under double crop. Also, since very few cash crops are grown in Chhattisgarh, there is a need to diversify the agriculture produce to include oilseeds and other cash crops.

Agriculture production
The annual production of foodgrains in the state is approximately 7.02 million tons, with the oilseeds and cash crops contributing an additional 0.24 million tons. While the agricultural sector has grown at only 2.63 percent between 2007 and 2011, the services sector has witnessed a growth of nearly 12 percent in the same period. In view of this, it is important to make farmers of the state aware of modern technologies suitable for their holdings. Characterized by low population density, poor physical infrastructure, heavy forest cover and a high vulnerable population, these spatial challenges and poor outreach of services have led to extensive spread of left-wing extremism in Chhattisgarh, which now covers 13 of the 27 districts of the state.

1Source: Census of India 2011
2Source: India Human Development Report 2011- Towards Social Inclusion
Source: Census of India 2011
Source: India Human Development Report 2011- Towards Social Inclusion
Source: India Human Development Report 2011- Towards Social Inclusion
The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), published for the first time in the 2010 Human Development Report, complements money-based measures by considering multiple deprivations and their overlap. The index identifies deprivations across the same three dimensions as the HDI and shows the number of people who are multidimensionally poor (suffering deprivations in 33% of weighted indicators) and the number of deprivations with which poor households typically contend. It can be deconstructed by region, ethnicity and other groupings as well as by dimension, making it an apt tool for policymakers. Source: Human Development Report 2010- The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development
7Source: CSO
Source: India State of the Forest Report 2011