Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Wednesday presented the state budget for the 2015-16 fiscal. At a time when his government has come under fire over the drought situation across the state, Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced an array of budget allocations for agriculture, as well as several announcements for the Maoist-affected Bastar region in the southern part of the state.
Presenting the Rs 73,996 crore budget in Vidhan Sabha, Singh said the state has had to overcome many challenges in the past year, including the drought and Left-Wing Extremism. In the budget, Rs 2,565 crore has been allocated to irrigation to make farmers “self-reliant”. A sum of Rs 223 crore has been set aside for drought-hit farmers, while Rs 150 crore has been allocated for the distribution of seeds — a move that the government said would benefit 7 lakh farmers.
The CM also announced four new battalions for anti-Maoist operations and the creation of 4,000 new posts for fighting Left-Wing Extremism. Singh also announced that the affected districts of Bijapur and Sukma would each get an “Education City”, akin to the one already functional in Dantewada. Jagdalpur is set to get a 100-bed super speciality hospital. A sum of Rs 23 crore has been earmarked for building Jagdalpur airport, while a hundred new healthcare centres are set to come up in Bastar.
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The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party have criticised the budget. Shailesh Nitin Trivedi of the Congress said, “78 per cent of the state is involved in agriculture and the state government has actually ignored them. It has also made us the state which charges the highest VAT in the country, The first budget was of Rs 3,000 crore. It is now 25 times that amount, but there has been no corresponding growth in the state.”
AAP convenor Sanket Thakur said, “Ahead of the 2013 Vidhan Sabha polls, farmers were promised a paddy bonus of Rs 300 per quintal, a support price of Rs 2,100 per quintal and free electricity. None of these have been fulfilled. That there is no new plan for irrigation at a time of grave drought shows the government’s inability.”