Focus on employment guarantee scheme, roads in budget
Village roads and the national employment guarantee scheme found prime importance in the budgetary allocation for India's rural development ministry for which the allocation was hiked by 35 percent Thursday.
The allocation for the ministry was hiked to Rs.83,852 crore (Rs. 838.52 billion) from Rs.61,863 crore (Rs.618.63 billion) last fiscal.
The department of rural development which handles key schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Indira Awas Yojana and National Rural Employment Mission got a hike in allocation of Rs.20,738 crore.
"The central government has reaffirmed its commitment to a better and more energetic Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (rural road scheme) as it had a massive impact in improvement of access for rural population," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in his maiden budget speech in the parliament.
The rural road scheme, which was initiated during Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, has been provided a sum of Rs.14,389 crore in the budget.
Renewing his commitment to providing wage and self-employment opportunity in rural areas, Jaitley said that employment would be provided under MGNREGA through works that are more productive, asset creating and substantially linked to agriculture and allied activities.
The government has decided to extend the provision of bank loan for women Self Help Groups (SHG) at 4 percent in 100 more districts as part of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), he said.
He also proposed to set up a "Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme" for encouraging rural youth to take up local entrepreneurship programmes with an initial sum of Rs.100 crore.
A special fund for backward regions, already being implemented in in 272 districts in 27 states would be re-structured to address intra-district inequalities.
The government also announced a "rurban mission" for providing city-like facilities in rural areas, following a model adopted in Gujarat.
Named "Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission", it will be launched to deliver "integrated project-based infrastructure in rural areas".
Jaitley said people living in rural areas "can get efficient civic infrastructure and associate services" through this scheme.
(Posted on 10-07-2014)