New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with her red “Budget bahi khata” or cloth ledger, similar to last year, presented her second Union Budget today (February 1) and emphasised on taking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme Swachh Bharat Abhiyan forward with a focus this time around on attaining Open Defecation Free plus (ODF Plus) status focussing on liquid and solid waste management. Budget 2020 speech also touched upon other issues that India is grappling with when it comes to impact on health and environment like air and land pollution, healthcare and implementation of various nutritional schemes.
- Budget 2020 Three Focus Areas: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that Budget 2020 is woven around three prominent things – aspirational India to boost the standard of living; economic development for all; and building a humane and compassionate society. Ms Sitharaman also said that the government will strive to bring ease of living to every citizen.
- An Overview Of Government’s Hit Schemes: Highlighting some of the achievements of the government through different schemes, Ms Sitharaman said between 2014-19, the government has achieved many milestones, which are also globally recognized and have benefited poor in many ways. She listed out schemes like Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for better sanitation and water facilities, health care through Ayushman Bharat and clean energy through Ujjwala and Solar Power.
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s Budget: Under the Aspirational India pillar, Ms Sitharaman talked about water and sanitation and allocated a budget of Rs 12,300 crores for the financial year of 2020-2021 for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. This is down from last year when the total allocation for the campaign was Rs. 12,644 crores (Rs. 9,994 crores for Swachh Bharat Mission Rural and Rs. 2,650 crores for Swachh Bharat Mission Urban).
- Focus Of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan On Waste Management: Underlining that this year Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will focus on open defecation free plus (which means total sanitation in terms of solid waste management in addition to open defecation free tag), Ms Sitharaman said that through this India will be able to successfully sustain ODF behaviour and no one will be left behind. She also said that the government will focus on source segregation and effective solid waste management in the country this time around.
- For A Swasth India: Under the Aspirational India pillar, FM Nirmala Sitharaman also spoke about India’s health care sector and allocated a budget of Rs 69,000 crores for the year 2020-21. In 2019-20 the FM had announced a Rs 62,659.12 crores outlay for the healthcare sector. This year, she also proposed to expand Jan Aushadhi Kendras in all districts of the country to provide medicines at affordable rates. FM also announced the government’s campaign to eradicate Tuberculosis in India by 2025. She said, “TB haare ga, desh jeete ga, (TB will lose and country will win), I propose to strengthen this campaign to realise our commitment to end tuberculosis in India.” The Finance Minister 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, for which details of the scheme will be worked out soon.
- Poshan Abhiyan And Mid-day Meals Budget Allocation In Budget 2020: In the Budget 2020 the National Nutrition Mission or Poshan Abhiyan, which aims to bring down malnutrition rates in India, has been increased from Rs 3,400 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 3,700 in 2020-21. Whereas, mid-day meals scheme have seen NO CHANGE IN budget allocation for the FY 2020-21 AND IT REMAINS AT11,000 crore. On the other hand, this year’s budget allocation for food subsidy under Public Distribution System saw a decrease in budget allocation with Rs 1,15,569 crore in FY 2020-21 against the allocation of 1,84,220 crore in FY 2019-20.
- Nutrition And Women In Focus For Budget 2020: FM Nirmala Sitharaman also announced 35,600 crores for nutrition-related programmes in 2020-21 and 28,600 crores for programmes which are specific to women. She said, “Health of both mother and child is important for the government. Nutrition this time will be the focus, to improve the nutritional status of 0-5 years, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers, the government had also launched Poshan Abhiyan.” Ms Sitharaman also said that over 6 lakh anganwadi workers have been equipped with smartphones to upload the nutrition status of 10 crore households.
Also Read: Budget 2020: 10 Things Health And Nutrition Experts And Activists Are Expecting From The Union Budget
- Clean Piped Water For All: Speaking about piped water supply and government’s target to supply it to every household, FM Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government has approved 3.6 lakh crore for Jal Jeevan Mission and during 2021, this scheme would be provided a budget exclusively of 11,500 crores.
- Climate And Clean Air In Focus: Highlighting the issue of Clean Air, FM Nirmala Sitharaman added, “In large cities with population of over 1 lakh, clean air is a matter of concern. In this year’s budget, the government has allocated 4,400 crores for clean air. The government also proposes to encourage and incentivise states that are formulating plans for ensuring cleaner air.” In the budget 2019-20, the central government allocated Rs. 406 crore for National Clean Air Program (NCAP), for 102 cities which was later expand to include 122 cities.
- An End To Manual Scavenging: Ms Sitharaman in the Budget speech also said manual scavenging will end. She added, “We have identified suitable technology to eliminate manual cleaning of sewer systems and septic tanks.” The government to deploy a suitable system to do the same in priority.