The Budget for 2010-11, presented to the Assembly by Finance Minister T. M. Thomas Isaac, seeks to enhance welfare programmes and push forward infrastructure schemes.

He hopes to increase tax revenues by 25 percent in the coming year, and undertake programmes to promote energy efficiency, gender justice and equity.

Support is extended to traditional sectors in a big way by proposing an income support scheme and other measures. The Minister enlarged the scheme for providing rice at Rs. 2 a kg to cover 35 lakh people in the unorganized sectors. They would include labourers in the agriculture and traditional industries besides those covered under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). An urban employment scheme is proposed to cover those out of the NREGS net.

The health insurance scheme is expanded to cover serious diseases like cancer with all-round increase in pensions and grants for the physically and mentally challenged and Scheduled Castes and Tribes. New grants were announced for orphans.

A number of measures have proposed for amelioration of environment and energy efficiency. These include a Rs. 1000 crore green fund to promote conservation, planting of trees and restoration of degraded forests. Assistance would be given for conservation measures by individuals and organizations.

To save energy, energy efficient chulhas and compact fluorescent lamps would be promoted. An energy credit system would be introduced for saving electricity. Energy auditing would be made mandatory and a company would be formed to take up energy efficiency projects. Rs. 100 crore is earmarked for construction of national water ways and renovation of feeder canals. A company would be set up to study and launch a superfast rail corridor system. Rs. 10 crore is set apart to encourage units recycling plastic waste.

The Budget proposes a slew of measures to ensure gender justice. These range from women-friendly police stations to toilet and other facilities for women at public places.

The following are the major proposals for infrastructure development in the Budget:

A company with paid-up capital of Rs.1000 crore would be set up with the Government share pegged at 26% and co-operative and public sector institutions having a share of 25% for the construction of the Kannur Airport.

For the Rapid Rail Corridor project with an estimated investment of Rs.50,000 crore, a joint venture company would be set up this year.

Rs. 100 crore has already been provided for the Phase-I of Vizhinjam project. Rs.125 crore is set apart for this now. A global tender would be invited for the construction of the port and associated construction activities, even while the construction of the Container Transshipment Terminal is on.

The LNG Terminal would be commissioned in 2012. GAIL is laying gas pipeline from Kochi to Mangalore, to Bangalore via Palakkad and to Kayamkulam via the sea. Anticipating these developments, it is proposed to set up a retail network in partnership with GAIL for which Rs. 17 crore is earmarked. Further, linked to the gas pipeline network, work on setting up Kochi Kasargod and Kochi Palakkad industrial corridors would begin this year itself. Rs.5 crore is allotted for setting up a separate company for this purpose. This year itself, steps would be initiated to take over 5000 acres of land.

In the road sector, the second phase of KSTP would begin this year. Rs.232 crore is provided to KSTP. The Roads and Bridges Corporation would take up construction of the Rs.1600 crore Elathur Ponnani beach tourism road on BOT mode. Funds for land acquisition for this purpose have been provided. Hill Highway is another critical project which is reaching the implementation stage this year. The land acquisition process for four laning the CherthalaKodimatha, Kakkanad- Kothamangalam Muvattupuzha and Karamana-Kaliyikkavila road stretches would begin this year.

Government of Kerala has informed the Government of India that it is willing to pay its entire equity contribution for the Kochi Metro if approved. A token provision of Rs.5 crore is earmarked. Alongside, Delhi Metro would be entrusted with the task of preparing and implementing projects related to railway overbridges and roads needed in the context of Kochi Metro. Delhi Metro would take up these as deposit works. Rs.50 crore is allotted for this purpose now.

Vyttila Mobility Hub Society has already been registered. The estimated cost of this Hub which would link the rail, road and water transport networks is Rs.300 crore. The funds required would be sourced from JNNURM and agencies like GCDA. I set apart Rs.5 crore specially for this. The Sea-port Airport road in Kochi would be completed.