Rural poor in India have been getting lot of attention in recent budgets and MGNREGA was one of the key initiatives that played a key role in uplifting the poor in rural India. This time too rural India got lot of attention but nothing beats the proposal to provide clean drinking water to rural poor! This specific aspect is of primary concern and this is a very welcome initiative taken up by the Finance Minister.
The FM has put a smile on the poor people in around 14000 rural habitations with his proposal to set up water purification plants in rural areas to help provide water free of arsenic and fluoride to rural habitats for which he has allocated Rs.1400 crores. This is aimed at helping 2000 arsenic and 12000 fluoride affected rural habitations in the country. The minister has also allocated Rs 15260 crore to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. Clean water in every rural tap may be a dream come true very soon.
It is pertinent to note that consumption of arsenic causes several cancers like bladder, lung, skin, renal and liver cancer besides causing harm to central and peripheral nervous systems. It also causes serious skin problems besides causing birth defects and reproductive problems. Excess consumption of fluoride over one’s life time can cause bone tenderness, and children have chance of developing dental problems like dental fluorosis and other effects that will impact the teeth causing cosmetic problems.
In one stroke the FM has aimed at helping the poor lead better life as well as limit the health care cost of rural poor that would befall on the Government. It’s heartening to note that marginalized people in rural communities caught the finance minister’s discerning eye.
Steadfastness in MNREGA
Despite the noise against MRGEA in the farmer community and in some elite circles, the Government has reiterated its commitment to empower the rural poor by hiking the allotment of funds to MNRGEA to Rs.33,000 crore. It probably is sending a signal to the farmer community, who should explore ways to tidy up with the situation like opting for mechanical farming and other means. Hope the word is not lost on the farmers, especially the affluent ones who should pave the way.
Comprehensive boost to Rural Growth
Apart from the above specific indication, the union Budget has also mentioned an allocation of Rs 80, 194 Crore for the Ministry of Rural Development. This is a substantial increase of 46% over the previous year thus signaling the importance given to Rural India. Also the various proposals indicated for Agricultural development too will help strengthening Rural India.
A new Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is being proposed to help improve the roads in states including Andhra and Rajasthan.
The corpus of the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund has been raised to Rs. 20000 Crore to promote the development of infrastructure in rural areas thus improving overall growth. Panchayat will have access to investment and funding from NABARD for construction of warehouses thus helping farmers to store their produce.