Education, agriculture and healthcare got the maximum focus, while several items including candles, kerosene stoves, packaged drinking water, cinema tickets, LED bulbs and tubes, citronella oil and feeding bottles would become cheaper, as the BJP-led government in Assam tabled its first budget, of Rs 78,253.36 crore, that showed an overall deficit of over Rs 2880 crores.
Placing the budget, state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said while the education sector along with sports, art and culture would get 20 per cent of the budget allocations after 26 per cent for general services, the agriculture and rural development sector would get 10 per cent. Sector-wise allocation of the remaining sum will be as follows: water supply, sanitation, housing and urban development (8%), transport (6%), social welfare and nutrition (5%), irrigation and flood control (5%), and others (9%), besides public debt (6%).
On the education front, the budget envisaged establishing three more medical colleges (in Nagaon, Dhubri and Lakhimpur) under centrally sponsored scheme, besides completing construction of one each at Kokrajhar and Diphu. While an All India Institute of Ayurveda would be set up at Raha, he also announced setting up three new universities and 21 new polytechnic institutes, and making three engineering colleges (Karimganj, Golaghat and Dhemaji) fully functional in the current financial year.
The budget also proposed converting gender-specific schools to co-educational ones, while students of Class IX and X of government schools would get free textbooks from the next academic year. Laying stress on improving primary and school education, Sarma said that while eight new district institutes for teacher education would be set up, 17,000 TET teachers would be appointed by April 2017. Altogether 297 upper primary schools on the other hand would be covered under computer-aided learning programme, he added.
While the BJP-led government had promised social security during the recent assembly elections, Sarma announced setting up women’s cells in 63 police stations, appointing 4,000 police personnel, providing cyber crime detection facilities and setting up citizens’ committees in all the 345 police stations.
On the agriculture front, Sarma announced I-cards to farmers, installation of 61,000 shallow tube-wells, promoting organic farming, covering 1.50 lakh fishermen under group insurance scheme, setting up 40 new milk cooperatives and 244 rural godowns, among others.