States

Maharashtra Budget: infrastructure gets lion’s share; focus on health, agriculture

Finance Minister Ajit Pawar arrives to present the Budget, in Mumbai on Monday.  

In a bid to recover the struggling economy in the wake of COVID-19, the Maharashtra Budget for 2021-22 has focused on investment in infrastructure development, while providing women with financial benefits and promising devotees a makeover of religious places.

State Finance Minister Ajit Pawar on Monday presented a ₹4,84,118.19 crore Budget. Though he refrained from making too many big-ticket announcements he ensured that health and agriculture get good shares of the budgetary allocation.

In the backdrop of a revenue deficit of ₹46,177.59 crore for the 2020-21 fiscal, Mr. Pawar expected the revenue deficit to come down to ₹10,225.66 crore in the next financial year.

While the Budget has not proposed cuts in taxes on petrol and diesel, it has suggested a hike in excise duty on branded country liquor and VAT on liquor.

Major projects

Among the major infrastructure announcements are a 200-km Jalna-Nanded Expressway Connector to Hindu Hriday Samrat Balasaheb Thackeray Samrudhi Mahamarg, at an estimated cost of ₹7,000 crore, a 170-km Pune Ring Road estimated to cost ₹26,000 crore, and a coastal highway connecting Revas in Raigad district to Reddy in Sindhudurg district at a cost of ₹9,573 crore.

Besides, the Pune-Nashik railway project is a medium high-speed railway line with a proposed length of 235 km, which is estimated to cost ₹16,039 crore.

Along with the ongoing infrastructure works in Mumbai, which include Metro, coastal road, Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link Project, and Virar-Alibaug multimodal corridor, Mr. Pawar announced sewage treatment plants at Worli, Bandra, Dharavi, Ghatkopar, Bhandup, Versova and Malad at a cost of ₹19,500 crore.

Health services

On the health front, a ₹7,500 crore project involving construction and upgrade of health institutions across the State will be completed in the next four years. The government will provide ₹5,000 crore in the coming five years for quality health services in the municipal councils and nagar panchayats. It has also been proposed to set up post-COVID-19 counselling and treatment centres at every district hospital and government medical college in urban areas.

Marking International Women’s Day, the government announced Rajmata Jijau Griha-Swamini Yojna under which a concession of 1% in stamp duty will be given if the registration of the property is in the name of a woman of the house. The Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule scheme offers free travel in the Maharashtra State Transport buses to girl students in rural areas for commuting from their villages to schools.

The State has announced forming of a first women battalion of the State Reserve Police Force. The Sant Janabai Social Security and Welfare scheme provides for registration of unorganised labourers and a capital of ₹250 crore will be allocated for this purpose. It has been proposed to reserve 3% funds from the district plan for a scheme to empower women and children.

Temple conservation

To conserve and preserve eight ancient temples, Mr. Pawar announced an outlay of ₹101 crore. Along with this, monetary assistance will be provided to over 19 religious places across the State.

Other announcements include Rajiv Gandhi Science and Technology Park, which will be set up in each revenue district. The Maharashtra Apprentice Promotion Scheme will be launched on Maharashtra Day, covering two lakh youth apprentices, which is expected to cost ₹300 crore. New government medical colleges will be set up at Sindhudurg, Osmanabad, Nashik, Raigad, Satara, Parbhani and Amravati.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 11:16:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/maharashtra-budget-infrastructure-gets-lions-share-focus-on-health-agriculture/article34023840.ece

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