By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 2 Feb: Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami held a press conference today regarding the Union Budget presented in the Lok Sabha, yesterday. Interacting with the media at his official residence today, the Chief Minister claimed that the people of Uttarakhand would be much benefited by the budget.
While describing the budget as historic and as one that would lay a strong foundation of future India, he claimed the budget had taken care of every section of society and every sector of the economy. He reminded media persons that the Union Government, through the new budget, had increased the share of the states in the central taxes by about 25 percent. While Uttarakhand was getting around Rs 9,130 crores from the central taxes but, after this budget, the state would now get around Rs 11,428 crores which would be 25 percent higher as compared to the past.
In addition, schemes like natural farming and fisheries and incentives for cultivation of coarse grains like Mandua (Finger Millet) and Ramdana (Amaranthus) would also directly benefit Uttarakhand. In particular, the hill districts would benefit from the schemes related to the coarse grains which had been termed as Sri Anna Yojana under the Union Budget. A minimum support price of Rs 3600 per quintal had been declared for Mandua and now the state would procure much larger quantity of coarse grains from the farmers. Uttarakhand would also be benefited from the extension of the scheme of 50 year interest free loans to the states by one more year. This would lead to more infrastructure development projects in the state.
Dhami reminded that 157 new nursing colleges had been announced in the budget which would be set up in co-location with 157 medical colleges. Uttarakhand would also get four new nursing colleges as a result of the budget, Dhami asserted, adding that these would be set up in places where the four new medical colleges are being constructed – Almora, Pithoragarh, Haridwar and Rudrapur. This would help create more skills in the nursing sector as well as more jobs. The CM added that many incentives had also been announced in the pharmaceutical sector too and Uttarakhand is home to a large number of pharmaceutical units and therefore it would be directly benefitted. He said that fifty new tourist destinations have been announced in the budget, and Uttarakhand being a tourist state would also benefit as a result.
The Chief Minister said that Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 would be launched as announced in the Union Budget under which Skill India National Sectors would be opened to skill the youth for international opportunities. The Union Government would spend Rs 10 lakh crores on infrastructure and investment. Airports, heliports, aerodromes and advanced landing zones would be set up or upgraded. Employment would be created through infrastructure. The PMPBTG Development Mission would be launched to improve the socio-economic condition of tribal groups. A big announcement had been made for benefit of sanitation workers in the cities. The manholes of drains and sewers would now be cleaned by machines, due to which the sanitation workers would no longer have to enter the manholes.
Dhami also reminded that 38,000 teachers and supporting staff would also be recruited in ‘Eklavya Vidyalayas’ in tribal areas, New Eklavya Schools would be set up and at least one Eklavya School would also be set up in Uttarakhand. He added that five kg free ration had also been extended to the poor for one year. Uttarakhand would also benefit from the announcement of new digital libraries in rural areas.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami termed the Union Budget presented in Parliament as Amrit Kaal in true sense. He said that the interests of every section including youth, middle class, farmers and women had been taken care of in the budget. The budget is dedicated to inclusive growth, preference for the underprivileged, infrastructure and investment, capacity expansion, green growth, youth power, and the financial sector, and spelt out the vision of Amrit Kaal. He added that Uttarakhand and the people of the state would be benefited from the budget.
Dhami congratulated Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for the budget. He said that India is the fastest growing economy in the world under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi. He termed the decision on supply of free food grains to all priority families in the budget for the next one year as highly commendable. CM Dhami said that creating an agricultural fund to encourage agri-start ups to young entrepreneurs, providing assistance to one crore farmers for natural farming, animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries and increasing the agricultural loan target to 20 lakh crores in the next three years. By doing this, the farmers, horticulturists, animal herders and fishermen of Uttarakhand would also get benefited.
The CM asserted that the importance of tourism for the economy of Uttarakhand is immense. Definitely, the initiative being taken for the development of the tourism sector in the budget would prove to be very helpful. Focus will be on the development of border villages through Vibrant Village. This will also benefit the border villages of the state. He said that with the launch of PM PVTG Vikas Mission to improve the socio-economic condition of tribal groups, tourism will be promoted in mission mode with the active participation of states, government and public partnerships.
Regional air connectivity would also improve. Overall this was the budget of youth, women, farmers, the poor and middle class.
The CM said that a new tax slab has been brought in the budget. This would give a lot of relief to the middle class and job profession. The scope of income tax exemption has been increased. The limit of Senior Citizen Account Scheme would now be increased from Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 9 lakh. New savings scheme for women had also been announced. A new savings scheme had been announced for women. Interest would now be given under this scheme at the rate of 7.5 percent per annum. With the increase in the budget of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, everyone’s dream of a strong roof would be fulfilled, he said.
In response to a question about the rehabilitation package in Joshimath, he said that eight central agencies are working in Joshimath and an appropriate rehabilitation package would be worked out for disaster affected families in Joshimath once the detailed reports are received from these agencies. He added that the issue of Green Bonus had been raised in the meetings of the NITI Aayog and with the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, by him and the state hoped to get a positive response.