The district panchayat’s budget with a surplus of Rs. 2.68 crore for 2013-14 financial year was passed here on Monday.

The budget presented by vice-president Bindu George envisaged collective revenue of Rs. 430.06 crore against expenditure of Rs. 427.28 crore. The four-member Left Democratic Front led by the opposition leader M.B. Syamanthabhadran dispelled the budget as repetitive of the ruling front’s previous two budgets with nothing new to write home about.

The budget affects lakhs of people residing in 84 panchayats in the district, excluding areas under 11 municipalities and the Kochi Corporation.

Road maintenance has been allocated Rs. 29.52 crore. Projects worth Rs. 17.36 crore will be implemented in the farming sector, including in farming, dairy, and agri-products marketing sectors.

Education and projects to further literacy have received Rs. 16.75 crore.

The budget proposes various schemes worth Rs. 5 crore for the welfare and empowerment of women. Projects in the energy sector have been allocated Rs. 4.75 crore. Drinking water projects will be implemented in areas where acute water shortage is experienced, for which Rs. 1.38 crore has been allocated.

Various schemes for the well-being of differently abled will be implemented in cooperation with the Social Security Mission for which Rs. 2 crore has been allocated.

The Budget allocates Rs. 1.50 crore as grant in association with the district social justice department for orphanages, old age homes, and settlement homes.

As much as Rs. 10 lakh has been allocated to supply nutritious food for the HIV-affected.

All grama panchayats in the district will be made child-friendly in association with UNICEF. The budget earmarks Rs. 25 lakh for improving infrastructure of Buds Schools.

The budget allocates Rs. 50 lakh for renovation of the district panchayat office. The office will switch to solar energy. Environment projects have been provided a paltry Rs. 10 lakh while culture and arts received a meagre Rs. 5 lakh.

District teams in football, cricket and volleyball will be formed in association with the District Sports Council while Rs. 15 lakh will be allocated for the district swimming training centre.

Mr. Syamanthabhadran criticised the district panchayat for dropping its much innovative project ‘school at finger tip’ announced in the last Budget. Pokkali farming has also been completely neglected.

“The number of projects and the funds allocated is getting reduced with each passing year. Of the 117 projects announced in the last budget, 52 still remain on paper, ” he accused.

Sex education in schools

District panchayat proposes to introduce sex awareness education for students between Classes VIII and XII.

This is one of the major projects proposed for the education sector in the budget. The project has been allocated Rs. 10 lakh.

The project to be implemented with the cooperation of school counsellors, social activists and school faculty members aims at protecting students from falling prey to sexual abuses. The district panchayat expects to receive aid from UNESCO to expand the project to government and aided schools.

Anti-drugs clubs in schools will be made more active for which Rs. 10 lakh has been allocated. Anti-drugs pledge will be made compulsory in schools and awareness campaigns will be undertaken with the help of various voluntary organisations.

The budget allocates Rs. 10 lakh to rope in the service of more guidance teachers to extend counselling to students and to give moral science books to students.

School infra project has been allocated Rs. 10 crore, which will be used for constructing new building complexes for higher secondary schools and modernisation of classrooms and labs. The project will be implemented in about 50 schools by mobilising resources from NABARD, asset creation funds of MLAs, and the fund of the coastal area development corporation.

Under the Vijayadeepam project, academically backward students in classes VIII, IX, and X in government and aided schools will be given special coaching and snacks after normal schools hours. The project has been allocated Rs. 75 lakh. The budget has also allocated Rs. 10 lakh for the continuance of the mid-day meal scheme, ‘Subhiksha.’

New block at Aluva hospital

A new out patient block named after former chief minister K. Karunakaran will be built at the government hospital in Aluva at a cost of Rs. 1 crore.

Besides, another Rs. 50 lakh will be spent on the renovation of the old building.

This was one of the main projects in the health sector announced in the district panchayat Budget.

A haemophilia centre will be set up at a cost of Rs. 1 crore. Of this, Rs. 40 lakh will be spent on basic infrastructure while the remaining Rs. 60 lakh will be mobilised from voluntary organisations. Allopathy, Ayurveda, and Homeo medicines will be purchased, for which Rs. 1.50 crore has been allocated.

More dialysis centres will be set up. Rs. 25 lakh has been allocated for it.

The operation of existing dialysis units in the district hospital will be expanded while more units will be set up for which funds from the MP fund of P. Rajeev, MLA fund of Anwar Sadat, and the regional development fund of Cochin Shipyard Limited are also expected.

A waste water treatment plant at district hospital will be set up using Rs. 35 lakh. A modern mortuary will be set up at a cost of Rs. 80 lakh for which assistance from the MLA fund of Mr. Sadat is also expected.

Rodent control project will be implemented under the aegis of the ward sanitation committee with the funds of National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Life style diseases detection campaign at a cost of Rs. 5 lakh will be undertaken with the assistance of NRHM.

A gas crematorium will be set up at Piravom at a cost of Rs. 60 lakh. An additional assistance of Rs. 30 lakh is expected from the State government.

A new building will be set up for the district homeopathy hospital at a cost of Rs. 50 lakh.

Going plastic-free

The district panchayat proposes to make the district plastic-free for which its budget allocates Rs. 4 crore for setting up a plastic treatment plant.

The plant, claimed to be the first of its kind in the State and capable of treating all kinds of plastic, will be set up jointly by the district panchayat, district administration and a private company.

Plastic from all panchayats and municipalities in the district will be treated at this plant, provided plastic is given segregated from other waste.

The budget claimed that pyrolysis technology adopted by European and other developed countries would be used for the operation of the plant. “The technology will not cause any kind of pollution,” district panchayat vice-president Bindu George said in her budget speech.

The plant, she said, was also capable of treating crude oil sludge from refineries and tyre, and converting it into furnace oil. The furnace oil so generated could be used by industries for operating furnace and boilers. Carbon ash generate along with furnace oil could be sold to cement companies.

The project was likely to generate 10 direct jobs and about 100 indirect jobs, the budget claimed. It further claimed that 22 such plants are functioning in various States in the country.

Another proposal in the budget is to set up biogas plant at a cost of Rs. 30 lakh. The plant capable of treating waste at the point of generation and producing cooking gas will be set up by the district panchayat in association with Suchitwa Mission.

Women in focus

In the wake of rising incidents of crime against women and children, the district panchayat budget has allocated Rs. 60 lakh for the completion of the district Nirbhaya Centre at Edakkattuvayal.

The centre aims at preventing sexual atrocities against women and children and for rehabilitation of victims. The Budget also envisages various schemes for the well-being and betterment of women.

As much as Rs. 10 lakh has been allocated for taekwondo, karate and yoga training for women. The project for girl students in schools introduced in the last Budget will now be extended to cover Kudumbasree members as well. The budget allocates Rs. 1 crore for setting up sales outlets and for enabling women to start industrial units. The sales outlets for women will be eventually handed over to grama panchayats concerned.Scheduled Caste women from Below Poverty Line families will receive the benefit of the budgetary allocation of Rs. 1.80 crore to set up 180 kiosks of Rs. 1 lakh each. aimed at encouraging entrepreneurial spirit among them and helping them generate income for leading independent lives. Widows and differently-abled women will be given preference under the scheme.

Mechanised three-wheeled scooters will be given to disabled women, for which the budget has set apart Rs. 50 lakh. Comfort station for women will be set up at Nedumbassery at Rs. 25 lakh. Women and children-friendly centres will be set up at a cost of Rs. 75 lakh.

An additional Rs. 25 lakh will be allotted for the completion of the sanitary napkin project at Edakkattuvayal. Meetings of women complete with cultural events and games will be organised under the aegis of the district Kudumbasree Mission.

The district panchayat in association with the Federation of Blind will spent Rs. 5 lakh under a project named Jyothirgamaya whereby computer training will be imparted to visually challenged women.

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