Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced a slew of measures for welfare of common people, including farmers, while presenting the Budget for 2010-11 in the State Assembly on Tuesday. He affirmed that the main thrust of the Budget was on good governance and accountability, besides better delivery of services.

This was the second Budget presentation by Mr. Gehlot, who also holds the Finance portfolio, during his second stint as the Chief Minister.

Mr. Gehlot’s two-hour-long Budget speech announced more finances and powers for the Panchayati Raj Department for rural development, schemes for the agriculture sector, women-oriented plans, new water policy and solar energy policy and the establishment of a Food and Civil Supplies Corporation and a Public Grievances Redress Commission.

The budgetary announcement for supply of wheat at Rs.2 per kg to the families living below poverty line drew applause from the treasury members. Mr. Gehlot said the State Government would provide a subsidy of Rs.170 crore for the purpose and implement a coupon system to make the scheme a success.

Mr. Gehlot said the Police Commissioner system would be introduced in Jaipur and Jodhpur and additional powers given to the police for maintenance or law and order. A special insurance scheme will be brought into force for the police personnel working in anti-terror, anti-sabotage, bomb disposal and emergency response wings.

In a fresh initiative for progress of the Gujjar community amid legal wrangling over reservation, Mr. Gehlot announced a special package of incentives for students belonging to the nomadic tribe to help them get higher and technical education and compete successfully for the Government jobs.

While a legislation providing a special quota to Gujjars, Raibaris, Banjaras and Gadia Lohars has been stayed by the Rajasthan High Court, the Budget made a provision of Rs.25 crore for post-matric scholarships and financial assistance from Rs.50,000 to Rs.1 lakh to the youths from these communities preparing for competitive exams. A corpus of Rs.22 crore will also be available for them with the Deonarain Board.

For the minority communities, a new Dastakaar Yojana will provide training in various streams of artisanship, while a girls’ hostel will be constructed in Jaipur and industrial training institutes opened at five places. The Budget made a provision of Rs.2 crore for madrasas and Rs.50 lakh for the Waqf Board.

Mr. Gehlot said the State Government would pay subsidy amounting to Rs.1.50 crore to the women’s self-help groups disbursing loans for self-employment ventures. Besides, Rs.10 crore will be spent on a scheme for providing hot meals to women arriving at Community Health Centres for deliveries.

The Chief Minister announced a substantial increase in the rates of old age, widow and disabled pensions as well as ambitious plans for expansion of the road network, strengthening the irrigation sector, extension of veterinary services and production of 10,280 MW power by the end of the 12{+t}{+h} Five Year Plan.

The Budget also announced interest waiver on payment of outstanding principal amount of loans by farmers in the colonisation areas till December 31 this year and establishment of a “Mela Authority” to ensure safety and security of pilgrims and tourists.