More political, less economic

Mumbai: With an obvious eye on the Assembly election, possibly in October, the Additional State Budget has a social focus – the highlight being the Rs 1,000 crores set aside for the development of the Dhangar community.This is expected to silence the criticism in some quarters over the State government’s failure to give reservation under the Scheduled Tribes category to the Dhangars.Reckoning that OBCs will be king makers in the upcoming election, the government has kicked off various schemes for them as well and set aside Rs 200 crore for a new OBC corporation. But the proposal which will be hailed by all is the Rs 100 crore earmarked for housing for the handicapped.

Social engineering apart, the Fadnavis government has tried to give the Budget an economic thrust by proposing 50 industrial parks for micro, small and medium enterprises; as a pilot project, it is proposed to initially create such parks in 50 talukas. Out of the total plots developed, 30% will be reserved for women entrepreneurs.

The Budget has also proposed an outlay of Rs 12,000 crore for the irrigation sector and Rs 350 crore for micro-irrigation facilities. The icing on the cake is the Rs 600 crore budgeted for research in the four agricultural universities in the State.

The highlight of the Budget may be the provision of Rs. 500 crore for creation of employment in Naxal-affected areas. An outlay of 100 crores for Khadi and Village Industries Board is expected to perk up the languishing rural sector. Now onwards, the Chief Minister Employment Generation Programme will be the flagship scheme under which youth are assured of self-employment. Under this scheme, there is a specific plan to start 10,000 small industries; preference will be given to women and SC ST entrepreneurs.

Infra remains the mainstay and the Public Works department will get Rs. 16,025 crores to develop various projects.

The urban development department will get Rs. 35,791 crores and the Housing Department Rs 7,197 crores. There is, however, nothing specific for the middle class in terms of tax reliefs or other sops. The Budget has relief for traders and business community, which will help them avail of benefits of an amnesty scheme for outstanding tax in the ratio of undisputed and disputed taxes; they have also got certain reliefs under the Ease of Doing Business.

The Nationalist Congress Party's Leader of Opposition in Council Dhananjay Munde termed the Budget as "illusionary", which gives an impression that much is being given without anything concrete being made available. He also said that the Budget did not even contain a mention of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial. Nonetheless, provision has been made for constructing a memorial dedicated to the late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Mumbai and a statue of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak at Maharashtra Bhavan in Delhi. The state government had tabled an interim budget in February this year.

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