Free college education for girls, houses for rural poor, saris and more in U.P. Budget

Atiq Khan
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Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav presenting the Uttar Pradesh Budget for 2013-14 in the State Assembly on Tuesday.Photo: Subir Roy
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav presenting the Uttar Pradesh Budget for 2013-14 in the State Assembly on Tuesday.Photo: Subir Roy

Free education for girls in government and aided degree colleges, houses for the rural poor, a Metro railway project in Lucknow, two saris each for women above 18 years of age belonging to Below Poverty Line families and creation of a multi-purpose education hub for the minorities are among a host of populist measures proposed in the Uttar Pradesh Budget for fiscal 2013-14.

Presented by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, who holds the Finance portfolio, in the State Assembly on Tuesday, the Budget – Mr. Yadav’s second since assuming power in March 2012 – aims to please all and has spared the common man of fresh taxes.

Since development is the new mantra of governance, a new technology called “3D Geo-Special Database High Resolution Satellite Imagery System” is proposed to be developed for monitoring, planning and coordination of development works in the State.

Mr. Yadav presented the Budget against the backdrop of sharp criticism from Opposition parties who have alleged that money of the last Budget (2012-13) went largely unutilized. The Bahujan Samaj Party staged a walkout as the Chief Minister started his Budget speech with the Leader of Opposition, Swamy Prasad Maurya, stating that money of this fiscal’s Budget has not been entirely spent.

The Chief Minister sought to deflect the Opposition criticism trying to shift the blame on the Centre for delaying payment of funds meant for the Centrally-sponsored schemes. Mr. Yadav told reporters after Budget presentation that of the Rs.40,000 crore for Central schemes, only about Rs. 19,000 crore has been released by the Centre; Rs. 21,000 crore remaining has not been cleared despite several reminders in the form of meetings and letters to the Prime Minister. Denying any political motive behind alleged discrimination by the Centre, Mr. Yadav said similar complaints have been made by other States.

Mr. Yadav said of Rs. 43,000 crore (out of 60,000 crore) sanctioned under the planned head, Rs.38,000 crore has been utilized. However, he admitted that only about seven to eight months were at the Government’s disposal for implementing schemes like Kanya Vidyadhan, unemployment allowance, loan waiver and laptops and computers.

With a Budget size of Rs. 2,21,201.19 crore, which represents an increase of 10.5 per cent over the 2012-13 Budget (Rs. 2,00,110.61 crore), the Samajwadi Party government’s annual fiscal statement has all the ingredients of socialist philosophy with focus on betterment of farmers, youth, jobless, women and girls, minorities and Muslims as well as the deprived and backward sections. Thus as many as 219 new schemes worth Rs. 7,787.80 crore have been included in the Budget.

It aims at a growth rate of 8.5 per cent in the 12{+t}{+h}Five Year Plan (in the 2012-13 Budget the growth rate in 12{+t}{+h}FYP was pegged at 10 per cent). Priority has been accorded to capital expenditure for spurring economic growth rate. It is envisaged that creation of capital assets will give a fillip to the State’s economic growth. A fiscal deficit of Rs. 23,913.29 crore is estimated in 2013-14 which is 2.94 per cent of the gross state domestic product (GSDP).

Among the populist measures mentioned are the proposals for giving grant-in-aid at the rate of Rs. 1,00,000 per dwelling unit and up to a limit of Rs. 15,000 for solar light for enabling the rural poor a house of their own. With this end in view, the Chief Minister announced the “Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Rural Housing Scheme” with a budgetary provision of Rs 520 crore. In view of the recent hike in the State Advised Price (SAP) of sugarcane, the growers will be paid Rs. 21,000 crore in the current crushing season, which is about Rs. 3000 crore higher than last year.

An important decision announced in the Budget relates to construction of 259 bridges with a budgetary provision of Rs. 4,500 crore, some of which are under construction. While new universities are proposed to be set up in Allahabad and Siddharthnagar and attendant shelter buildings will be built in community health centres, a budgetary allocation of Rs. 750 crore has been made for the loan waiver scheme for farmers in 2013-14. The Aashirvad Child Health Guarantee Scheme will also be applicable to children of government-aided schools, madarsas and orphanages.

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