Despite being a leading state in Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), Maharashtra has failed to allocate adequate funds for social sector, alleged NGO Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, which Tuesday presented its review of Maharashtra Budget 2016-17.
The NGO pointed out that social sector expenditures over the last decade unfolds a dismal picture with declining trends in various sector spending. According to the NGO, the share of social sector expenditure in revised budgetary estimates for year 2015-16 constitutes about 5.31 percent of GSDP, which has been reduced to 5.01 percent in 2016-17 Budget.
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Allocations for Women and Child Development (WCD) has been slashed by 62 percent. The NGO claimed that considering the serious issue of malnutrition in the state and drought in many parts, the state took a contrary stand by slashing budgetary provisions for WCD from 3568 crores in 2015-16 to 1340 crores in 2016-17.
Dr Abhay Shukla of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan said, “It is a disappointing budget. The worst hit is the women and child development funding.”
Healthcare (public health and medical education) is facing a decline of 13 percent. Allocations for social security and welfare (including pension) has marginally decreased from Rs 4,539 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 4,517 crore in 2016-17, the NGO said.
Ravi Duggal, health expert, said since this is a drought year, the government should have escalated budgetary allocations for water, food security and health. “People, specially in rural areas need government aid the most right now,” he said.
Bandu Sane, who works with Anganwadis in Melghat, said that with the cut in nutrition support, salaries of anganwadi workers along with infrastructure support will be hit. “There is already a lot of trouble in anganwadis. The nutrition rehabilitation centers are shutting slowly. With less budget, how will critical undernourished children be attended?”