In a year when at least 174 farmers in the State committed suicide over crop failure, the Odisha government Saturday presented its annual Budget allocating 20 per cent more funds to the agriculture than it did last year.
Presenting a Budget of Rs 94052.65 crore in the State Assembly, State finance minister Pradip Amat said agriculture continued to be the focus area of Odisha government. Amat said an amount of Rs 13,181.89 crore has been allocated for the agriculture sector, which is about 20.89 per cent more than the outlay for the previous year. The outlay for the agriculture sector is about 14.02 per cent of the total outlay.
In 2015, lack of adequate rains during Kharif season led to the withering of crops in at least 235 blocks in 28 districts affecting standing crop over 1,535,902 hectares. The drought affected crops in 29,176 villages and 412 wards of 55 urban local bodies to the extent of 33% and more. The real growth rate of agriculture sector is expected to fall sharply by 12.85 per cent primarily due to the huge fall of cropped area, yield rate and production of food grains.
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The increased allocation for farmers and the agriculture sector in the Budget comes just about 8 months before Odisha holds its the panchayat polls, scheduled in January 2017.
With drought affecting the crops last year, the State government has now planned to provide irrigation facilities for 2.57 lakh hectares this fiscal. During the year 2016-17, the focus will be on completion of on-going major, medium and minor irrigation projects along-with installation of Mega Lift, Shallow and Deep Bore Wells and Micro Irrigation facilities to optimise water use efficiency, he said. The water resources department has thus been allocated Rs 7241.66 crore, 16.57 per cent higher than what it was given last year.
“Our emphasis for this budget is consolidation and completion of the on-going projects so that the desired socio-economic benefits reach the common people. Irrigation, agriculture, rural development and related livelihood opportunities are our thrust areas. We are also making all efforts to add to the generation capacity for energy security,” said the finance minister.
He said a new scheme ‘Support to Farmer Producers’ Organization “with the objective of mobilization of farmers into members owned producer organizations or FPOs, to enhance production, productivity and profitability of farmers, especially small farmers in the State” will be launched. These will be linked to mandis which will be modernised as e-markets.
Amat said a new scheme ‘Biju Kanya Ratna’ will be launched in the districts of Dhenkanal, Angul and Ganjam for the empowerment of women. For the first time an amount of Rs.4 crore has been proposed to be provided for the welfare of transgenders.
To end the shortage of qualified medical professionals, the Budget has provided Rs 615 crore for construction of five Medical colleges in the districts of Bolangir, Koraput, Mayurbhanj, Balasore and Puri. Centre will provide Rs 189 crore towards non-recurring capital cost for the establishment of each of the five new medical colleges.
To help tourists from other States stay in cheap accommodations in temple town of Puri, Odisha would now provide a patch of land there to develop basic infrastructure and allocate plots to different State Governments for construction of their State Bhawans/Niwas. The proposed area named will be named Jagannath Enclave. The Budget has also made provisions for way-side toilets for general public.
Amat said there was a fiscal deficit of 3.79 per cent in the Budget, a little higher than mandated threshold of 3.5 per cent.