: Set to face the Assembly polls in a year, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today unveiled in the state budget proposals to set up subsidised food canteens, provide seven kg free food grains per poor person and 100 per cent preference for Kannadigas in certain private sector jobs.
Taking the cue from the popular "Amma canteens" in Tamil Nadu, introduced by former Chief Minister late J Jayalalithaa, Siddaramaiah, who holds the Finance portfolio,said he proposed to launch "Namma Canteens" in Bengaluru, where breakfast would be provided at Rs five and lunch and dinner at Rs 10.
This is the last "full term" budget presented by the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government before going to polls in early 2018, in which it is expected to face a fierce bid from BJP to stage a comeback to power that it lost in 2013.
It was also Siddaramaiah's 12th budget as Finance Minister and fifth as Chief Minister.
He had earlier served as Finance Minister under the ministries headed by H D Deve Gowda and late J H Patel.
The 2017-18 budget presented in the Assembly does not propose any major changes in the rate structure in tax proposals, keeping in view the expected roll out of GST from July 1 this year.
"Namma Canteen, a novel programme will be started to supply breakfast, lunch and dinner to the common man at affordable prices," Siddaramaiah said.
He said one canteen in each of the 198 wards of Greater Bengaluru limits would be opened, where breakfast would be available at Rs five and lunch and dinner at Rs 10 and allotted Rs 100 crore for the scheme.
"On demand from people,food grains being distributed under Annabhagya scheme will be increased from five kg to seven kg per person," he said.
He said 20 lakh poor families have already been brought under 'Annabhagya' scheme through Public Distribution System which was announced by Siddaramaiah after assuming power with an intention to free the state from hunger.
To encourage higher education, the government proposed that free laptops will be supplied to students getting admission in 2017-18 to Engineering,Medical, Polytechnic and First Grade Colleges.
Around 1.5 lakh students will be benefited fromthis.
In a move considered as "linguistic appeasement", the budget states that government will take steps to ensure 100 per cent preference in employment of Group C & D jobs to Kannadigas and five per cent for differently abled in the private sector.
Amidst growing demand for and expectations of crop loan
waiver as the state is reeling under consecutive years of drought, Siddaramaiah did not make any announcement on this.
Instead,he decided to continue the scheme of disbursing short-term agriculture loans upto Rs three lakh at zeroper cent interest rate and medium term and long termagriculture loans upto Rs 10 lakh at three per cent interest rate.
A target has been fixed to disburse Rs 13,500 crore of agriculture loans to 25 lakh farmers.
Siddaramaiah flayed the Modi government's demonetisation move, saying it had caused "great" distress to people and hit the state's revenues from stamps and registration, causing a shortfall of Rs 1,350 crore during 2016-17.
Questioning the very need for demonetisation, he said the government had not yet disclosed the outcome of its step.
The banks were simply not geared up for this major decision and the manner of implementation exposed the union government's lack of preparedness, he said.
Pointing out that there are 17 declared slabs of Additional Excise Duty, Siddaramaiah said that as a measure of rationalisation, it is proposed to increase AdditionalExcise Duty on two slabs by six per cent and on the remaining 15 slabs by 10 per cent and 16 per cent.
He said in view of these changes, VAT on liquor,including beer, fenny, liqueur and wine will be removed with effect from April 1, 2017.
Noting that there was a demand by government employees for pay revision, Siddaramaiah announced that a pay commission would be formed to examine it.
Considering the geographical and administrative necessities, the government proposed creation of 49 new taluks during the year to fulfil the long pending demands, he said.
A project "E-Vidhana Mandala" to bring in paperless legislative proceedings at a cost of Rs 60.84 crore is proposed and Rs 20 crore will be provided in 2017-18 towards initial activities.
Siddaramaiah said that with an intention to reduce air and noise pollution in Bengaluru, it is proposed to ban two stroke autorickshaws with effect from April 1, 2018 and replace them with 10,000 four stroke LPG auto rickshaws, for which Rs 30 crore would be provided as subsidy at Rs 30,000 per vehicle.
State government proposed to add 3975 MW capacityduring 2017-18, including 1600 MW from Yaramaras project, 1000 MW from Solar Energy Park of Pavagada and 1375 MW from renewable energy sources.
Under Bhagya Jyothi Scheme, electricity being given free of cost will be increased from 18 to 40units, the chief Minister said, adding that five villages in each MLA constituency will be converted into Model Electricity Villages by taking steps for the efficient usage of electricity.
Siddaramaiah announced extension of"Krishi Bhagya" to all talukas of coastal and Malnad areas (excluding command areas) and said Rs 600 crore grant will beprovided for this purpose.
Stating that action would be initiated to establish Primary Agricultural Co-Operative Societies in every Grama Panchayat where it is financially viable, he also said loans at four per cent rate of interest being disbursed through co-operative societies to the women Self Help Groups will be provided at zero per cent rate of interest from this year.
In the wake of incidents of sexual assaults on minorsin schools and various issues concerning private educational institutions, he said Karnataka School Education Policy and objective, transparent and unobtrusive regulations covering infrastructure norms, fee, teaching resources and safety and security of students in all schools to achieve the policy goal will be formulated.
The budget also proposes five Super SpecialityHospitals in Davanagere, Ramanagara, Tumakuru, Vijayapura and Kolar at a cost of Rs 25 crore to treat patients suffering from Cancer, Heart diseases and other lifestyle diseases.
It also said that at a total cost of Rs 15 crore, 150 Health Extension Dispensaries having one doctor, one nurse andone pharmacist will be established each at a cost of Rs 10lakh in villages, where the distance from the Primary HealthCentre is more than 10 km.
One ambulance service will be provided for a radius of 10 to 15 km for population of every 35,000 by integrating 711 ambulance working under GVK EMRI and 827 ambulance working under State health department.
Siddaramaiah said to meet the nutrition needs, it is proposed to extend "Matru Poorna" scheme to all 30 districts of the State where hot cooked meals are provided to pregnant andlactating mothers from coming July, for which Rs 302 crore will be provided.
He also said all children in Anganwadis would be given eggs for two days in a week from coming June. An amount of Rs 47 crore will be spent for this and milk currently being distributed for three days in a week under "Ksheera Bhagya" scheme will be distributed for five days from coming July.
Noting that Rs 148.74 crore has been provided to KarnatakaWomen's Development Corporation for implementing variousprogeammes,the Chief Minister said "Saviruchi" mobile canteens will be established in all 30 districts through "Zilla Stree Shakti Okkutas".
The Social Welfare department has been provided Rs 6,363 crore in the budget in which various programmes have been announced.
They include 30 Morarji Residential Schools to be upgraded to PUC level with science and mathematics subjects, at a cost of Rs one crore to each district.
Noting that seven lakh houses will be sanctioned under different schemes, the Chief Minister said that out of this, six lakh houses in rural areas and one lakh houses in Bengaluruwould be constructed.