New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the country’s first paperless Union Budget today (February 1) and delivered her address using a ‘Made in India’ tablet computer. The budget was not printed in order to minimise the possibility of social interaction and maintain social distancing norms amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Budget 2021 emphasised on healthcare in the country and a slew of announcements were made for strengthening the health sector. She also announced POSHAN 2.0. Budget 2021 also focuses on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship scheme Swachh Bharat Abhiyan stressing on waste management and also provides for addressing environmental issues like air pollution and other important health crisis facing the country like malnutrition and lack of clean drinking water.
Here are the top highlights of Budget 2021 on Nutrition, Sanitation and Health Issues
- Budget 2021 Focus Areas: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that Budget 2021 is based on the following pillars- Health and wellbeing; Physical financial capital and infrastructure; Inclusive development for aspirational districts; Reinvigorating human capital; Innovation and Research and Development; Minimum government maximum governance;
- Fight against Covid continues in 2021: In her opening remarks, FM Sitharaman said Budget 2021 was prepared in “unprecedented times.” She also thanked the essential workers who continued to serve the country amid the lockdown. Ms Sitharaman has announced a dedicated outlay for fighting the pandemic. The dedicated COVID-19 package amounts to 13 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. The FM said that more COVID-19 vaccines are expected soon. Rs. 35,000 crore have been allocated for COVID vaccines, said the FM.
- Health And Wellbeing: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the country could have never imagined the health crisis that was about to unfold when she presented the budget for 2020. ‘The government is committed to providing more funds. The Budget outlay for health and welfare is Rs 2,23,846 crore in the 2021-22 Budget. This is a 137 per cent increase,’ she added. The FM also said that the government will provide support to over 17,000 rural, 11,000 urban health centres across the country. Ms. Sitharaman said that Pneumococcal vaccine, a made in India product, presently limited to five States, will be rolled out across the country. This will avert 50,000 child deaths annually, she said.
Lauding the boost given to healthcare in the budget 2021, Shobana Kamineni, executive vice-chairperson of Apollo Hospitals, said,
This is an amazing budget for the healthcare sector. A 137 per cent more being spent than ever but just remember who that being spent for. That’s not for you and me, it’s for the people who are the most underserved.
- Pradhan Mantri Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana: FM Sitharaman also announced a new central healthcare scheme in the Union Budget to strengthen the country’s healthcare infrastructure over the next six years. The Pradhan Mantri Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, which will operate in addition to the existing National Health Mission, has been allocated around Rs 64,180 crore. This scheme is expected to be used to develop capacities of primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare systems as well as existing national institutions over a period of six years. In addition to this, it would be used towards creating new institutions to cater to the detection and cure of new and emerging diseases.
- Mission POSHAN 2.0: Ms Sitharaman said that Budget 2021 focuses on intensifying strategies to improve nutrition goals, especially in “aspirational districts”. She announced that Supplementary Nutrition Programme and POSHAN Abhiyaan will be merged and a new “Mission Poshan 2.0” programme will be launched to address malnutrition in the country. The “Mission Poshan 2.0” will focus on strengthening nutritional content, delivery and outcome.
- Clean Piped Water For All: Talking about piped water supply and government’s target to supply it to every household, FM Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Government to launch Jal Jeevan Mission Urban. The mission will be launched with an outlay of Rs. 2.87 lakh crore spread over five years. It will aim at a universal water supply in all 4,378 urban local bodies, with 2.86 crore household tap connections and liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT (Atal Mission For Rejuvenation And Urban Transformation) cities
- Climate And Clean Air In Focus: “Intend to focus on reduction of single-use plastic, air pollution and segregation of waste,” said FM Sitharaman says while talking about Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. She said that the budget proposes to allocate Rs. 2,217 crore for 42 urban centres. The FM has also announced a capping policy for old vehicles under which vehicles to undergo a fitness test in automated fitness centres after 20 years (personal vehicles) and 15 years (commercial vehicles).
Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises welcomed the scrappage scheme. Mr. Gadkari who will be will be declaring the Scrappage Policy in 15 days said in a press briefing,
There are more than 1 crore old vehicals that need to be scrapped. Such vehicles are causing air pollution. These vehicles use outdated technology which consumes more fuel and emit pollutants about 10-12 times than fit vehicles. There will be a reduction in vehicular air pollution by 25-30 per cent due to the scrappage policy.
To address indoor pollution, FM announced that Ujjwala scheme will be extended to 1 crore more beneficiaries and 100 more cities will get gas pipelines.
- Swachh Bharat Mission: “The Urban Swachh Bharat scheme will be implemented with an outlay of over Rs 1.4 lakh crore,” she said. The SBM 2.0 programme will be focused on complete fecal sludge management, wastewater treatment, source segregation, management of waste from urban construction and bioremediation of legacy dump sites.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.