Rs 14.34 lakh cr for rural infra, power, job scheme

Fund will be used to generate 321 cr person days of jobs, 3.17 lakh km of roads will be laid, 51 lakh houses and 1.88 cr toilets are to be built; MGNREGA has got highest-ever allocation of Rs 55,000 crore

The Union Government will spend Rs 14.34 lakh crore in rural areas in 2018-19 to generate employment of 321 crore person days and to develop infrastructure, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

Besides generating employment, this investment will lead to a construction of 3.17 lakh km of roads, 51 lakh new houses, 1.88 crore toilets, and will provide electricity connections to 1.75 crore new households, the minister said in his Budget speech.

Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar hailed the Budget as one for ‘New India’ and for the overall inclusive development of the country.

The total budgetary allocation for the Rural Development Ministry increased marginally to Rs 1.124 lakh crore for the financial year 2018-19 from Rs 1.054 lakh crore in the current fiscal and the total expenditure estimated to be incurred by ministry in the current fiscal is Rs 1.09 lakh crore.

“The government is committed to the overall development of the country and like the current year, the Modi government has allocated highest ever amount of Rs 55,000 crore to MGNREGA for the next fiscal,” Tomar said.

The government allocated Rs 55,000 crore for MGNREGA year 2018-19 as compared to Rs 48,000 crore allocated in the current year. The expenditure incurred on the scheme in the ongoing year is estimated at Rs 55,000 crore.

The allocation to various schemes under the National Social Assistance Programme also rose to Rs 99.75 crore from Rs 95 crore in the previous fiscal. The allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, the government’s flagship scheme for roads in rural areas, has been allocated Rs 19,000 crore for 2018-19, same as in the last Budget.

While making the proposals in this year’s Budget, the government was guided by its mission to strengthen agriculture and rural development, besides other sectors of the country’s economy, Jaitley stressed.

“As my proposals indicate, the focus of the government next year will be on providing maximum livelihood opportunities in rural areas by spending more on livelihood, agriculture and allied activities and construction of rural infrastructure,” the minister said.

Jaitley also announced an increase in the allocation for the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) to Rs 5,750 crore in 2018-19 from Rs 4,500 crore earlier.

The loans to women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) increased to about Rs 42,500 crore in 2016-17. The government is confident that loans to SHGs will increase to Rs 75,000 crore by March next year, the Finance Minister said.

Meanwhile, the allocation for rural housing scheme Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana came down marginally to Rs 21,000 crore for the year 2018-19 from Rs 23,000 crore in the last Budget. — PTI

[ Feb 2, 2018]