Gujarat Finance Minister Nitin Patel presented a Rs 2,04,815 crore Budget on Tuesday, the highest allocation ever in Gujarat’s history. The Budget was, however, different from what the state has seen in the past, especially because of the extra emphasis on water management.
In fact, Gujarat has been facing a severe water crisis over the past two years and as a result, Patel has focused on augmenting water resources, sustainable development by tapping green energy and eco-friendly disposal of chemical effluents.
Aiming to provide tap water to each and every household by 2022 under “Nal se Jal” scheme, Gujarat has already put in place its treated wastewater reuse policy while eight sea-water desalination plants are in the pipeline.
Also, there is a new push towards monetisation of surplus electricity generated by solar rooftop scheme. Gujarat is planning to increase the reach of its solar rooftop scheme from current 50,000 houses to 2 lakh houses.
In the vote on account presented before the Lok Sabha elections in February 2019, the state government had avoided levying new taxes saying its own tax income had shot up by 11 per cent in 2017-18 thanks to effective tax compliance and collections.
However, the modified budget has increased tax on electricity duty for power generated for captive consumption by industries and also increased stamp duty for some instruments.
Unlike earlier budgets, the 2019-20 budget has the maximum allocation for education, sports, art and culture at 20.79 per cent.
Agriculture, irrigation and rural development get marginally less at 20.63 per cent, while the allocation for health and family welfare is a mere 8.43 per cent. So while in 2018-19 an estimated Rs 1125.40 crore was spent on education, the health and family welfare head had an expenditure of Rs 2058.98 crore.
Now, education has been allocated Rs 1472.67 crore and Rs 1239.95 crore for health and family welfare. Social welfare and nutrition have a 5.12 per cent share in the 2019-20 Budget.