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Bastar Division was created in 1999, when the larger Bastar District was divided into the present-day districts of Bastar, Dantewada, and Kanker. In 2000 the division became part of the newly created state of Chhattisgarh.
Bastar is the southernmost region in the state of Chhattisgarh. It is a forested mineral rich region with a population of 25 million people and a rich cultural heritage. Spread over a geographical area 39,117 km2, it is divided into seven administrative districts: Kanker, Narayanpur, Kondagaon, Bijapur, Dantewada, Bastar and Sukma. An estimated 12, 98, 987 voters live in the Bastar Lok Sabha (parliamentary) constituency. In recent times, the area has become the hub of Naxal or Left Wing Extremism (LWE) related conflict. Government statistics highlight the disproportionate number of incidents of violence and deaths in this area. The latest census of India (2011) indicates declining population trend in the LWE districts in Bastar.
Some of the most vulnerable population groups in India live in Bastar. The area is home to a number of different tribal groups (Scheduled tribes) and a variety of languages and dialects are spoken locally. Human developmental shortfalls among these groups have been further compounded in recent times by the incidence of left-wing extremism. Local agriculture, animal husbandry and forest based livelihood systems as well as weekly markets and transport networks have been disrupted by prolonged conflict. In a region where standard human development indicators were relatively low to begin with, widespread absence and worsening access to healthcare, education, drinking water, sanitation and food is creating an alarming situation. Availability of state functionaries responsible for delivering these basic minimum services in the conflict affected areas is also very low. Not surprisingly the health and nutrition indicators of all the districts are well below the state average.
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