Populist measures to dominate Jaswant's budget
Jaswant Singh is all set to announce a populist budget to bolster the electoral fortunes of the BJP.india Updated: Feb 21, 2003 11:17 IST
Finance Minister Jaswant Singh is all set to announce a slew of populist measures in the budget to bolster the electoral fortunes of the BJP which is fighting assembly elections in several key states in the coming months and the general elections in 2004.
Sources divulged that two drinking water schemes, for urban and rural poor, would be launched with an investment of Rs 2,000 crore.
Drinking water supply and quality of water will be improved in urban areas and major cities with an investment of Rs 700 crore. Simultaneously, a scheme (Pradhan Mantri Grameen Jal Samvardhan Yojana) will be launched in rural areas. The Rs 1,333 crore scheme will recharge ground water through rainwater harvesting. The scheme will become operational from April 2003.
The scheme will cover 222 blocks across 10 states in phase I while another 287 blocks would be covered in phase II. Under the scheme, Rs 10 lakh would be provided to gram panchayats to improve water supply.
The finance minister, according to the sources, would also announce three schemes for providing social security covering unorganised labour, marginal farmers and workers. Health insurance for unorganised labour, agriculture insurance for marginal farmers and pension for workers would be announced, the sources said.
A programme to provide security and care for adolescent girls with an investment of Rs 141 crore is also likely to be announced. It is learnt that some existing schemes will be either merged or renamed to provide them a fresh lease of life.
For instance, the Annapurna scheme launched last year by Yashwant Sinha will be merged under the renamed National Social Assistance scheme to provide food for work in rural and semi-urban areas. Sources maintained that Rs 676 crore will be spent on this scheme.
The Development Reform Facility announced in the 2002-03 budget to provide special assistance to backward states taking up reforms would now be overhauled.
It is being renamed as Rashtriya Samvikas Yojana with an allocation of Rs 1,450 crore to provide funds to backward states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. While earlier funds were made available to states taking up reforms, now the two are being delinked.
The sources said the Centre has also decided to continue with rural and village electrification programmes with an investment of Rs 600 crore and accelerated power development programme with a budgetary support of Rs 3,000 crore.