Raipur, Dec 30 (PTI) The Congress-led government in Chhattisgarh coped with coronavirus and naxal menace during the year, consolidating rural economy with a slew of financial relief and employment-oriented measures in a bid to buck the post-pandemic trend in the country.

Chhattisgarh, carved out of Madhya Pradesh, completed 20 years of its formation, while the Bhupesh Baghel-led regime completed two years in office during the year.

Two schemes, Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojna and Godhan Nyay Yojna, along with mass job creation in the rural pockets through MGNREGA and minor forest produce procurement were identified as leading factors in driving the states economy during the pandemic.

"The first thing we did when the nationwide lockdown was announced was to provide free ration to the poor for three months," the chief minister said.

Over 2.77 lakh people in the state have tested COVID- 19 positive and 3,336 lost their lives due to the coronavirus so far and the numbers are continuing to climb.

Chhattisgarh also remained in news this year due to the killing of 17 security personnel by naxals, Income Tax departments raids on the premises linked to state government officials and others, deaths of elephants and killings of civilians by Maoists in south Bastar.

The death of political stalwart Ajit Jogi also shocked the state.

After the state reported its first case of coronavirus on March 18, the state government immediately imposed section 144 of CrPC in all urban areas, banning assembly of people and sealed its borders to check the spread of infection.

The state initially witnessed few cases but later saw a sharp rise in numbers with massive influx of migrants. Over seven lakh migrant workers returned to the state during the lockdown, for which 21,000 quarantine centres were set up by the state government.

In September and October, the state saw a peak and reported over 1.50 lakh cases in the two months.

After lockdown curbs were relaxed, industries in the state resumed operations and the job creation started through MGNREGA and minor forest produce collection, an official said.

Around 51 lakh labourers from 27 lakh families have been provided works under MGNREGA so far this year and Rs 2305 crore were paid to them.

In May, the state government launched the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojna, aimed at ensuring better return to farmers for their produce and encouraging crop production.

Under the scheme, farmers have so far been given Rs 4500 crore in three installments as an input support for the cultivation in the Kharif season 2019-20.

Another major scheme was Godhan Nyay Yojna under which the state government has been procuring cow dung at Rs 2 per kg from cattle rearers for production of vermi-compost at gauthans, dedicated area in villages where cattle are housed.

Since the inception of the scheme in July, around 1.40 lakh dung sellers have been paid Rs 64.20 crore.

There was a surge in automobile sales and purchase of jewellery and land registration during the year, which the Baghel government claimed were indicators of the states economic growth during the pandemic.

The year saw the Congress government engaged in warding off the opposition BJP's attack over farmers issues, handling of the pandemic and law and order situation.

The BJP claimed that around 255 cultivators committed suicide during the year. It also alleged mismanagement at quarantine centres after 26 people died in such facilities.

In February, the Income Tax department raided premises linked to some Chhattisgarh government officials and others.

Baghel then accused the Centre of weakening the federal structure and trying to destablise the Congress government. The chief minister and his cabinet colleagues met Governor Anusuiya Uikey seeking her intervention.

In October, Uikey's refusal to allow a special session of the Assembly triggered another confrontation with the Congress government. Accusing the BJP of backdoor politics, Baghel had said the Raj Bhawan should not be turned into a political arena.

The state government had sent a proposal to her to hold the session to introduce a farm Bill that would circumvent the three agriculture Bills passed in Parliament.

Uikey questioned the need for a special session, saying the monsoon session had concluded 58 days earlier.

In September she had expressed her displeasure over the governments decision to redesignate Marwahi in the new district of Gaurela-Pendra-Marwahi from a gram panchayat to a nagar panchayat. She had also written a letter to Baghel over the transfer of IAS officers attached to the Raj Bhavan.

Ajit Jogi, the first chief minister of the state and president of Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (J) party floated by him, died in May after health complications.

His death necessitated a bypoll to Marwahi assembly seat, which was being represented by him. The Jogi family suffered a jolt after nomination papers of Amit Jogi, Ajit Jogis son, and his wife Richa Jogi were cancelled by election authority stating that their caste certificates were invalid.

Amit Jogi alleged that he was ousted from the fray at the behest of Baghel and extended support to BJPs nominee in the bypoll held in November.

The ruling Congress defeated the BJP in Marwahi, taking its tally to 70 in the 90-member Assembly. The Congress also put up a good show in panchayat elections held earlier.

In March, Naxals dealt a heavy blow to security forces in Chhattisgarh killing 17 police personnel during an ambush in the Bastar region of the state.

The attack, in Sukma district of the Naxal-hit state, was one of the deadliest in the region against the security forces. It came almost two years after another deadly attack by the Naxals in the same area in July 2018 led to the death of 24 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.

The March attack came as a setback for the government which had claimed to have 'controlled' the naxal menace with development-oriented initiatives.

During the year, 38 naxals were killed in as many as 104 encounters with security forces, while 386 were arrested and 331 surrendered till December 22 in the insurgency-hit Bastar division comprising seven districts.

Security forces also recovered 78 firearms, 268 IEDs and 576 detonators during anti-naxal operations in the region.

In October, the outlawed CPI (Maoist) claimed responsibility for killing 25 people, including some of its members, for allegedly acting as police informers, in separate incidents in the insurgency-hit Bijapur district.

The state government announced the development of Ram Van Gaman Path as a tourist destination.

Some believe that Lord Ram traversed through 75 places in Chhattisgarh during his exile from Ayodhya, and may have stayed at 51 locations for some time. Eight spots on this forested route mentioned in mythology will be developed into tourist destinations in the first phase.

Congress stalwart and former chief minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh Motilal Vora died at 92 on December 21. He was cremated with full state honours on the banks of the Shivnath river in his hometown Durg in Chhattisgarh.

Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar shared a video of a differently-abled boy from Chhattisgarh's naxal-hit Dantewada district on social media in January, showing 12-year-old Madda Ram Kawasi hitting the ball and crawling to complete a run using his right hand while holding the bat with the left.

A Raipur couple naming their newborn twins as Corona and Covid, Naxals hit as lockdown disrupted their supply chain of essentials and a cop providing ration and other essentials to kin of security personnel killed in naxal violence kept the state in the news during the year.