Reminding the Assembly how her government had inherited an economy marred by financial mismanagement three years ago, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje presented her government’s Rs 81,157 crore budget for financial year 2017-18 on Wednesday. In line with her stance that the government will focus on ensuring that schemes already announced over three years are taken to the public, the CM did not make any big-ticket announcements.
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Addressing the media after the budget, she said that her government has focused on delivering essentials like “bijli, sadak, pani”. She added that budget allocation for PWD, PHED (Public Health Engineering Department), and water resources department had gone up by 58.47 per cent, 15.68 per cent and 11.14 per cent, respectively.
As has been the trend in her speeches lately, the CM began with roads, highlighting how their construction in her three years towers over five years of previous the Congress regime. She announced an additional Rs 1,200 crore for Gramin Gaurav Path and missing links for 2000 village panchayats, renewal of 5,000 km of rural roads with Rs 800 crore, development of 796 km of state highways using Rs 580 crore, among seven other key road projects.
The CM also promised Annapurna mobile kitchens and WiFi for all municipal towns, along with pension for sportspersons over 60 years.
For drinking water, Raje again highlighted that her government, at Rs 13,473 crore in three years, had spent over double the amount by the previous government in the same period. “Without making proper arrangement for (financial) resources, the previous government announced 67 major drinking water schemes, of which we decided to implement 37, and of which, 32 have been already completed,” the CM said. The pending projects worth Rs 5,292 will be completed on priority, she said.
The CM also announced 17.06 per cent higher allocation for Women and Child Department. This includes Rs 250-500 per month incentive for Anganwadi workers based on performance, Rs 70 crore for basic facilities and maintenance and upkeep of ICDS centres, extension of one-stop crisis management, Aparajita centre, for women in 15 districts and launch of Chirali scheme for awareness on violence against women in seven districts.
Widow pensioners over 60 years will get Rs 1,000 per month and those over 75 years will get Rs 1,500 per month. The outlay for Medical and Health Department has been increased by 8.21 per cent and it mainly aims at upgrading existing facilities which includes breast cancer screening and treatment at 14 hospitals, etc. Under Medical Education Department, which has a 33.40 per cent higher allocation, a separate wing for treatment of silicosis has been proposed each in Kota and Jodhpur.
Rs 50 crore for new universities in Alwar, Banswara, Sikar and Bharatpur, and Rs 48 crore for eight new colleges were among few new announcements in education sector.
With Rs 156.83 crore, Art and Culture department also witnessed a major boost of 49.42 per cent higher allocation than last year. This includes constitution of Chittorgarh Fort Development Authority for the fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site and development of four darghas as tourist spots.
The government has also allocated Rs 1 crore for restoration and maintenance of Mahadev Mandir alias Alwar temple in Varanasi and Rs 50 lakh for beautification and centenary celebration arrangements at Shri Radha Madhav Ji Mandir alias Jaipur temple in Vridavan.
The CM also announced extension of intra-state air service by connecting Kota, Ajmer and Sawai Madhopur to Jaipur, and direct connectivity of Agra and Jaisalmer to Jaipur and Bikaner to New Delhi, apart from Rs 16.54 crore for renovation of air strips.
To prevent poaching, Raje declared an IT-based security system for Ranthambore and Sariska.
For agriculture, the CM has proposed an outlay of Rs 3,156 crore, which will include launch of Mukhyamantri Beej Swavalamaban Yojana as pilot for Kota, Bhilwara and Udaipur divisions and mini-kits to one lakh farmers based on reports of soil health cards.
On seventh pay commission, the CM said that a decision will be taken soon based on recommendations of the committee constituted to look into it.