Women’s safety, ration, Keeladi get fillip in Tamil Nadu Budget 2020

This was Panneerselvam’s 10th budget as finance minister and the last one ahead of 2021 elections

Tamil Nadu
O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palaniswami at the state assembly before presenting the state budget | PTI Photo

In its last budget ahead of the 2021 assembly elections, the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu on Friday (February 14) made ambitious announcements regarding the safety of women and new ration schemes in the state. Besides, the government also allocated a separate fund for an on-site archaeological museum at Keeladi.

Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister O Panneerselvam presented the budget in the state assembly on February 14. It was his 10th budget as finance minister and also the last budget of the present ruling government ahead of 2021 elections.

The budget has a revenue deficit of ₹22,225 crore and the outstanding debt is expected to touch ₹4.56 lakh crore by March 31, 2021. Panneerselvam said the outstanding debt, which is 21.83 per cent of the GSDP, is within the norms of 25 per cent. In 2019-20, he said growth was forecast to be 7.27 per cent, higher than the projected all-India growth rate of 5 per cent.

New schemes

The government on Friday announced it would provide life insurance and accident coverage to families below poverty line through the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India. In this regard, the government has allocated a sum of ₹250 crore under the already existing comprehensive accident cum life insurance coverage.

In order to enhance safety of women, it allocated ₹75 crore under the Nirbhaya Fund for setting up of CCTV cameras in government buses. The government said it would also launch the Tamil Nadu Road Safety Mission to achieve the goal of becoming a ‘road accident-free state’.

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Besides, the Edappadi Palaniswami government allocated ₹6,500 crore for food subsidies under the public distribution system (PDS). A new scheme will also be launched soon to enable smart ration card holders to purchase products from any ration shop anywhere in the state.

A not-for-profit special purpose vehicle (SPV) will also be launched to enhance the ‘Amma Unavagam’ scheme. Panneerselvam, who announced ₹100 crore allocation for the SPV, said the government would continue to provide subsidised food grains for the scheme.

A five-year Chief Minister’s Rural Self Sufficiency Development Programme will also be launched to help villages attain self-sufficiency in water supply, healthcare, sanitation, education, environment protection, et al. Besides, a sum of ₹12.21 crore has been allocated to set up an on-site archaeological museum in Keeladi.

Allocations for existing programmes

While presenting the budget, Panneerselvam said the work on restoration of Cooum river is in its final stretch and that of the Adyar river is in progress. Soon, the eco-restoration work will be carried on in Buckingham canal, for which the government has allocated a sum of ₹5,439.76 crore.

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The existing Mission on Sustainable Dry Land Agriculture will be relaunched as Tamil Nadu Mission for Sustainable Dry Land Development to cover 3 lakh acre land, the budget said. It said the medical college under Annamalai University would be taken over by the state government and converted into a Government Medical College and Hospital for Cuddalore district.

The state government has also allocated a sum of ₹375 crore for MNREGA. Since the central government’s fund for higher education scholarship for SC/ST has been decreased, the state government has increased the education allocation for SC/ST to ₹2,018 crore from the previous year’s allocation of ₹1,857.13 crore.

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