Union Finance Minister Sh. Arun Jaitley(Photo couretesy: profit.ndtv.com)
Major focus on agriculture and farmers' welfare, a new health protection scheme etc are major highlights of the General Budget 2016-17 presented in Lok Sabha today by Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley
The Finance Minister said the agenda for the next year will be to ‘Transform India' in this direction. He highlighted that the budget proposals are built on this transformative agenda with nine distinct pillars which include: Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare; Rural Sector; Social Sector including Healthcare; Education, Skills and Job Creation; Infrastructure and Investment; Financial Sector Reforms; Governance and Ease of Doing Business; Fiscal Discipline and Tax Reforms.
Mr Jaitley announced that the Government will reorient its interventions in the farm and non-farm sectors to double the income of the farmers by 2022. He said total allocation for Agriculture and farmers' Welfare is Rs 35,984 crore. Stating that the ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana' has been strengthened and will be implemented in mission mode, he said 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under irrigation under this Scheme. He also underlined that the implementation of 89 irrigation projects under AIBP, which have been languishing will be fast tracked.
The Finance Minister announced creation of a dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund in NABARD with an initial corpus of about Rs 20,000 crore. To achieve all these, a total provision of Rs 12,517 crore has been made through budgetary support and market borrowings in 2016-17. He also said, simultaneously a major programme for sustainable management of ground water resources has been prepared with an estimated cost of Rs 6,000 crore and proposed for multilateral funding. The Minister said at least 5 lakh farm ponds and dug wells in rain fed areas and 10 lakh compost pits for production of organic manure will be taken up by making use of allocations under MGNREGA.
Mr Jaitley said the Soil Health Card Scheme will cover all 14 crore farm holdings by March 2017. He said 2,000 model retail outlets of fertilizer companies will be provided with soil and seed testing facilities during the next three years.