In an attempt to appease all sections of society months before the general elections, the interim Budget of the Bharatiya Janata Party government aimed at boosting social infrastructure and sops for marginalised sections.
“With this comprehensive 10-dimensional vision, we will create an India where poverty, malnutrition, littering and illiteracy would be a matter of the past. India would be a modern, technology-driven, high growth, equitable and transparent society,” Piyush Goyal said while presenting a 10-year vision under the Union Budget 2019-20 (I).
Although the expenditure on centrally sponsored schemes is marginally higher than last year by 7.5 per cent, the interim Budget introduced several new programmes and enhanced allocations for many.
For the government’s ambitious flagship scheme for universal health insurance, Ayushman Bharat, the government has provided for Rs 6,400 crore (BE), increase of 166 per cent over past year. An additional allocation of Rs 250 crore is provided under the National Urban Health Mission for building wellness centres against Rs 199.96 crore in the revised estimates for 2018-19.
The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna, which provides health insurance to families below the poverty line, saw an enormous increase of 142 per cent in the budgetary allocation to Rs 6,556 crore (BE).
Road connectivity through the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana received an enhanced allocation of Rs 19,000 crore (BE), up 27 per cent over last year. Similarly, the National Rural Drinking Water Mission saw a budgetary allocation boost of 50 per cent over last year to Rs 8,201 crore (BE).
In line with the Centre’s aim to provide urban facilities in villages to “keep the soul of rural life intact”, the Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, aimed at strengthening panchayats, has received support of Rs 831 crore.
The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission, which provides infrastructure, skill and entrepreneurial development in the villages, received enhanced allocation of Rs 800 crore in the interim Budget, up by 77 per cent last year. The scheme was launched in 2016.
Several key schemes, however, saw allocation cuts. The BJP’s ambitious Swachh Bharat Mission had its budgetary allocation decreased to Rs 12,750 crore (BE) from Rs 16,978 crore (RE) last year.
The rural electrification programme, in which the current government has announced electrifying all remaining 18,000 un-electrified villages and 100 per cent household electrification by March 2019, the allocation has been reduced by 38 per cent to Rs 4,066 crore (BE).
Another scheme that saw a reduction in budgetary allocation was the programme for LPG connection to poor households. The allocation in the interim Budget stood at Rs 2,724 crore (BE) from Rs 3,200 crore (RE) last fiscal.