Budget spells hope for Madhya Pradesh

Budget spells hope for Madhya Pradesh

By C RAJASHEKHAR | BHOPAL | 5 March, 2016
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan.
With its agrarian and rural focus, the Union Budget has a lot to offer to Madhya Pradesh. The establishment of the Rs 20,000 crore of dedicated corpus for irrigation under NABARD can be of great use to the state as it can dovetail its own irrigation focus with the Centre’s irrigation led strategy for the farm sector. Besides, the state can also reap sizeable benefits from the Centre’s thrust to organic farming that aims to bring 5 lakh acres in the country under organic farming in the next three years. As per a 2012 ASSOCHAM study entitled “Madhya Pradesh: Inching towards organic farming”, the state has an organic farming potential of Rs 23,000 crore sales turnover, Rs 600 crore export and 60 lakh jobs in five years, i.e by 2017. MP was the first state to provide cooperative credit to farmers at 0% interest rates. With the Centre setting a target of Rs 9 lakh crore farm credit, the state can increase lending to its own farmers. The proposed Rs 20,000 crore e-agriculture marketing scheme can be used by the state to link its farmers to e-marketing. The state can also leverage the allocation of Rs 38,500 crore for MNREGA. MP has performed better than many states in terms of “proportion of households who got job cards” and “who got work” under the MNREGA. The National Sample Survey Organisation’s (NSSO) 66th  round (2009-10) revealed that 69% of households in MP got job cards as compared to the 35% all-India average and 36% got work as against the national average of 24%. Likewise, the two schemes for digital literacy for rural India in the next three years can raise access to information and raise awareness levels in rural MP too. The BJP led NDA government’s initiative to light up all villages in India by 1 May 2018 would have obvious positive spinoffs for rural MP. The allocation of an average Rs 80 lakh per Gram Panchayat (Rs 2.87 lakh crore have been allotted for Panchayats as per the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission over 5 years) is a big boost to a predominantly rural state like MP.  The state can also partake the major health care reforms announced for the poor, namely the Rs 1 lakh health insurance for a family and the opening of 3,000 stores selling affordable generic drugs. The Rs 2,000 crore LPG scheme for BPL families would be a major relief to rural households in the state which suffer from shortages and inflation in firewood. Moreover, the benefits of the Rs 500 crore start-up scheme for SC/ST entrepreneurs, the Rs 1,700 crore for 1,500 multi skill development centres and the Rs 1,000 crore higher education financing scheme  can also be availed by the state.

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