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Big positive budget for state’s agriculture, health sectors: Experts

The budget that was announced on Thursday has increased allocation for food processing from ₹714 crore to ₹1,400 crore.

dehradun Updated: Feb 01, 2018 21:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,budget,Big positive
Former chief secretary IK Pande (second from right) speaks at a programme held on Budget in Dehradun.(Vinay S Kumar/HT PHOTO )

The union budget has evoked a mixed response among industry and experts in Uttarakhand. The incentives in agriculture, health and education are being seen as positive indicators for the state’s development.

There are, however, concerns on the lack of new incentives to boost tourism in the hills, besides the state’s poor track record in utilising allocated central funds.

The budget that was announced on Thursday has increased allocation for food processing from ₹714 crore to ₹1,400 crore. Besides this, cluster cultivation of horticulture crops will be promoted at district level to benefit small and marginal farmers.

Speaking about the budget’s significance for Uttarakhand, Indus Kumar Pandey, former chief secretary, Uttarakhand, said, “It is good that emphasis has been laid on agriculture. Promoting cluster cultivation will be beneficial for the state because most of our farmers are small and marginal. The increased allocation in food processing, bamboo cultivation, and organic farming should be capitalised as they can promise better earnings for farmers in the state.”

The co-chairperson of PHD Chambers of Commerce, Uttarakhand chapter, Virendra Kalra said, “We were not looking for any special package for the state this time. The Budget comes in the backdrop of a transition phase wherein major reforms were announced in the last couple of years. Overall, there is a positive shift in the industry sentiments. Some of the key announcements made to boost infrastructure, agriculture and MSME sectors were expected.”

Alok Kumar Jain, former chief secretary, Uttarakhand, said the budget was generic in nature and cannot be state specific.

“It is for the state to make itself eligible for different schemes announced by the Centre and the state’s proactiveness plays an important role in this. However, in regards to Uttarakhand, the past experience has been that we have not been able to avail benefits of even those schemes for which we were eligible. The state’s capacity to utilise central funds has been limited and needs to be strengthened.”

Speaking about the demand of ‘Green Bonus’ that has been regularly raised by the Himalayan and Northeastern states, Pandey said it can best be realised through grants in various central schemes and recommendation of the finance commissions.

In the health sector, the budget has proposed to bring 10 crore poor and marginal families under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and provide them a medical cover of ₹5 lakh per family per year.

The decision to set-up a medical college in every three parliamentary constituency, besides allocating ₹1,200 crore for setting up health and wellness centres across the country, has also been welcomed by the experts.

“The allocations for health sector will be important for Uttarakhand where far-flung areas are deprived of healthcare facilities,” said Jain.

Experts, however, said the budget could have come up with better measures to boost the tourism sector.

SP Kochhar, a hotelier, said, “In the wake of out migration, the budget should have had some special incentives to develop tourism in hilly and rural areas.”

First Published: Feb 01, 2018 21:01 IST