New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her second Union Budget today (February 1) and announced that this year’s budget is woven around three prominent pillars – aspirational India to boost the standard of living; economic development for all; and building a humane and compassionate society. FM Sitharaman said that the government this year will strive to bring ease of living to every citizen through various schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Poshan Abhiyan, healthcare for all, to name a few.
She also underlined the fact that in large cities with a population of over 1 lakh, clean air is a matter of concern and therefore this time the government will focus more on addressing the problem of pollution.
Here’s A Quick Overview Of Budget Allocation For Building A Swasth And Swachh India
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan:
Ms Sitharaman allocated a budget of Rs 12,300 crores for the financial year of 2020-2021 for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a nation-wide cleanliness campaign that kick-started in 2014 with a target to make India completely swachh and end open defecation.
Last year, Rs 9,994 crores was allocated for Swachh Bharat Mission Rural and Rs 2,650 crores for Swachh Bharat Mission Urban, with a total allocation of Rs 12,644 crores for the campaign. In FY 2018-19, the budget allocation for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was Rs 15,373 crores.
This time around, budget allocation saw a decrease of Rs 344 crores in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan allocation from last year. The trends of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan budget allocation over the years show that in FY 2018-19, the allocation was at its highest and since then it has decreased consistently.
Today, while announcing the budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, this time the government will focus on waste management and attaining open defecation free plus status which means total sanitation in terms of solid waste management in addition to sustaining the open defecation free tag. While some experts have welcomed the cut in budget allocation for the flagship sanitation programme, some have raised questions. Raman VR, Head of Policy at WaterAid India told NDTV that in his opinion, allocation seems to be just fine. He added,
The allocations for SBM 2.0 appears to be fine, though it is less than that of last year, but its fruitfulness will depend on the details, the areas where this allocation will be prioritised.
On the other hand, Dr Amiya Kumar Sahu, the Founder and President of the National Solid Waste Association of India said that he is disappointed with the allocation for SBA. He said,
Rs. 12, 300 crores for segregation and cleaning is not enough. Also, we have no clarity for processing of the waste and waste to energy plants, it should be owned by the government and allocation should be accordingly.
This time, the finance minister has allocated a budget of Rs 69,000 crores for India’s healthcare sector. With a vision for a healthier India, FM in her today’s budget speech said that the government proposes to expand Jan Aushadhi Kendras in all districts of the country with a goal to provide medicines at affordable rates to all. She also said that there is a shortage of qualified medical doctors – both general practitioners and specialists; this budget proposes to attach a medical college to a district hospital in Public-private partnership (PPP) mode.
This year, the budget allocation in the health sector saw an increase of Rs 6,341 crores. In 2019-20, the FM had announced Rs 62,659.12 crores outlay for the healthcare sector.
FM Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs. 35,600 crores for nutrition-related programmes in 2020-21. In this allocation, the budget for the National Nutrition Mission or POSHAN Abhiyaan, which aims to bring down malnutrition rate in India, has been increased from Rs 3,400 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 3,700 in 2020-21.
While delivering her budget speech, FM highlighted that the health of both mother and child is important for the government, therefore, nutrition this time around will be the focus.
Ms Sitharaman in this budget has also announced Rs. 28,600 crores for programmes which are specific to women.
The Centre’s programmes of maternity benefit and child protection services also got a boost in this budget. The allocation for Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), a maternity benefit programme, has been increased from Rs 2,300 crore to Rs 2,500 crore. Under the programme, Rs 6,000 is given to pregnant women and lactating mothers for the birth of the first living child.
Talking about the nutrition sector budget, ‘Nutrition Man’, Basanta Kumar Kar, who has also been awarded the Nutrition Leadership Award 2019 said,
Nutrition budget allocation of Rs 35,600 crore is a welcome move. I think this budget provides the scope and opportunities for nutrition-sensitive interventions in a substantial way. If implemented well, it can address hunger issues in India.
Clean Air And Water:
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today allocated a significant budget of Rs 4,400 crore for a clean air programme. She added,
Clean air is a matter of great concern, the government proposes to encourage states to formulate and implement plans to ensure cleaner air.
This time, the budget allocation saw an increase of Rs 3,940 crore from the amount granted in 2019-20 (Rs 460 crores).
Environmentalist Sunita Narain, who heads the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and is a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), welcoming the budget allocation for the year for clean air said,
Important to see substantial hike for #airpollution control in #Budget2020. But remember cleaning air needs clean fuels and vehicle restraint and enforcement against garbage burning and dust control. So funds need careful plans.
Important to see substantial hike for #airpollution control in #Budget2020. But remember cleaning air needs clean fuels and vehicle restraint and enforcement against garbage burning and dust control. So funds need careful plans
— Sunita Narain (@sunitanar) February 1, 2020
For clean water, this time the government has allocated a total of Rs. 11,500 crore to wellness and water sanitation – including Rs. 3.6 lakh crore to Jal Jeevan Mission that aims to provide piped water supply to every household in India by 2024.