Panchayat budget focusses on academic support

Improvement of physical infrastructure and academic facilities in schools will be among the top priorities of the district panchayat in the next fiscal, with a major allocation of Rs.23.71 crore made for the education sector in the civic body's budget for 2012-13.

The annual budget of the district panchayat, presented by vice-president Rufus Daniel here on Saturday, expects an income of Rs.145.12 crore and expenditure of Rs.137.78 crore. Projects worth around Rs.335.38 crore will be implemented through various Centrally sponsored schemes such as Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Village Hut, and Indira Awas Yojana.

“Improving the quality of education in rural schools has been an area of focus of the district panchayat and these projects will continue in the coming year. We have included infrastructure development and academic support programmes for schools in the government sector,” Mr. Daniel said. Special academic support and nutritious meals scheme for HIV-infected students, special coaching for academically weak students and students from backward sections of society, development of 10 model schools and infrastructure development in 71 high schools in the district are some of the proposals for the education sector.

Agriculture and animal husbandry is another focus area, receiving an outlay of Rs.26.70 crore. The panchayat is planning to implement a host of projects to revive the district's agriculture and animal husbandry sector. Projects for soil and water conservation, group-based vegetable cultivation, promotion of agro activities among Kudumbasree groups and men's self-help groups have been included in this sector. The budget also proposes a Rs.20-crore scheme to upgrade Vithura Jersey Farm, once State assistance is made available.

Upgrade of facilities in district hospitals, including Neyyattinkara Hospital, Varkala Ayurveda Hospital and Pattom Thanu Pillai Homeo Hospital, are among the main proposals in the health sector which has a total allocation of Rs.2.46 crore.

Around Rs.32.61 crore has been set apart for rural development while Rs.16.21 crore has been earmarked for SC/ST development. Financial assistance for tribal groups to grow spices and SC/ST colony development are among the projects included in this sector.

Vocational training, interactive multi-media training, artificial limb fitting and distribution of motorised scooters for the differently abled are some of the schemes proposed in the social welfare sector, which has been allotted Rs.2.16 crore. The budget earmarked Rs.58.20 lakh for rural small-scale industries' development schemes.