AAP presents Rs 53000 crore 'green' budget; focus on environment, education and health

New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Mar 23, 2018, 03:10 AM(IST)

File photo of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

The AAP government today presented a Rs 53,000-crore budget that focused on the environment, health and education sectors.

The government claimed it is India's first "Green" budget as it announced "health insurance for all" and a slew of measures to tackle air pollution.

The dispensation said that it followed "Trickle Up" economics to benefit the poor, even as the opposition termed it "jugglery of statistics".

Deputy Chief Minister Mansh Sisodia presented the budget for 2018-19 in the assembly.

He asserted that Delhi's economy continuous to be on the path of sustainable growth despite the "negative" impact of demonetisation and disruption caused due to the implementation of GST.

In the next financial year, the government said it expects to get Rs 23,400 crore from the Goods and Service Tax (GST) which is 60 per cent more than Rs 14,600 crore mopped up in the current fiscal, even as it lambasted the Centre for introducing the new tax regime.

It said the fiscal deficit dropped to about one-third of the original estimate for the current financial year after it carried forward Rs 1,969 crore of the budgetary shortfall to 2018-19.

For the first time, the government said, it has defined definite timelines for various projects for their timely implementation.

Sisodia announced that the government would install CCTV cameras at schools, impart self-defence training to girl students, and allocate Rs 100 crore for free Wi-Fi, which was a major pre-poll promise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Also, it would install 1.2 lakh CCTV cameras in the city by June next year.

Terming it a "splendid" budget, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said the government will take development to every home in the national capital.

The budget aims at benefiting all sections of society, including the middle class, the poor, women and students, he added

Kejriwal, however, did not fail to take a dig at Lt Governor Anil Baijal, saying, "There is a proverb, 'Man proposes God disposes', but here 'Delhi government proposes, L-G disposes'."

Sisodia said that if there is one word that most accurately captures the AAP government's economic vision and the policies that have emanated from it in the last the years -- it is "Trickle Up" economics that is aimed at benefiting the poor and middle classes.

The AAP government believed in the "Trickle Up" model of economics rather than "Trickle Down" model, he said.

The government announced a slew of measures to reduce air pollution, including incentives to switch over to clean fuels. Sisodia also assured to carry out a comprehensive city-wide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and provide a dedicated information system to show current levels of pollution by installing 1,000 indoor display panels at government buildings.

Noting that the "green budget" was being presented with 26 schemes or projects, Sisodia, who is also the Delhi finance minister, promised to start a pilot agriculture-cum-solar farm scheme.

Launching of a "health insurance for all" scheme, doubling hospital beds to 20,000 and expanding mohalla clinics were also the highlights for the health sector in the Delhi Budget.

The outlay for the health sector of over Rs 6,700 crore, about 13 per cent of the total budget of Rs 53,000 crore for the financial year 2018-19, is 17 per cent more compared to the last fiscal.

The government would impart self-defence training to girls, install CCTV cameras at all government schools, and set up 13 language academies and 25 world class skill development centres in the national capital.

The AAP government continued its trend of allocating the biggest share of the budget to the education sector, earmarking Rs 13,9997 crore, which is 26 per cent of the total budget, for it.

In the budget for 2017-2018, 23.5 per cent of the total budget amount was given to the education sector.

About 1.2 lakh CCTV cameras will be installed at all government schools, for which an outlay of Rs 175 crore has been proposed in the budget estimates 2018-19. Self-defence classes for girl students will be started, Sisodia said in his budget speech.

The Delhi BJP termed the AAP government's budget "jugglery of statistics" and said it announced schemes without constitutional approval.

Reacting to it, Union minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted: "#DelhiBudget - Delhi Budget is non-serious; falls short of target in setting up classroom libraries; development of every house is too ambitious to implement. Blaming Lt Governor is nothing but seeking excuses for non-performance."

The Delhi Congress also attacked the AAP government for failing to utilize the funds allocated for schemes last year and termed the budget "hollow" and "manipulated statistics" that fall short of fulfilling the aspirations of the people.

Industry bodies, however, lauded the Delhi government's budget, saying the focus on the environment will lay a strong foundation in making the national capital more habitable.

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