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Modi government’s maiden budget was a patchwork of abandoned schemes being revived or existing ones being re-named. Despite some fund allocation, the budget didn’t carve out a direction for real change
Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi
“The annual fund allocation for cleaning the Ganga was enhanced to Rs 2,037 crore but without recognition that the programme must be reinvented to succeed. Even the previous UPA government had made funds available, securing a loan of Rs 4,600 crore from the World Bank. But the river is still polluted as the approach is flawed. It focuses on building sewage treatment plants when our poor cities lack sewerage network.”
Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi
“It is for the first time that the government has acknowledged climate change adaptation as an important issue and the finance minister has allocated Rs 100 crore for it. But the fact is that there has never been a debate in the country on what we mean by the term ‘climate change adaptation’. Do we need a separate programme for adaptation or should it be mainstreamed into all policies and programmes?”
Richard Mahapatra, Managing Editor, Down To Earth
“MGNREGA, which accounts for a major chunk of the Central budget, was mentioned in four lines with the absurd articulation that government will use labour under the scheme only for creating productive assets. But the law already has ‘non-negotiable’ provisions for the same. Is it then a deliberate attempt by the finance minister to give a political message that the UPA government's programmes, however important or critical, need to be ignored?”
Vibha Varshney, Science Editor, Down To Earth
“Creating infrastructure is not going to improve India’s health. But the interim budget focused on this aspect. Money has been given for making more AIIMS-like institutes, more medical colleges, referral institutes for higher dental studies and institutes for the ageing. More infrastructure has been promised for strengthening the drug and food regulatory systems. Under this, laboratories will be built. But who will run all these institutes and labs?”
Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi
“The budget had nothing to offer in terms of scaled up efficient and affordable public transport system for the urban majority. It is an irony that only two days before the budget, the government had stated its poverty formula to say that every third Indian is poor and urban poor can spend only Rs 47 per capita a day. Yet there was no proposal to scale up affordable transport in cities.”
Latha Jishnu, Senior Journalist
“In a budget speech which went on for 140 minutes, proposals on agriculture speckled it from the middle to almost the very end. There were huge funding announcements and a rash of new research institutes to be set up in various parts of the country but overall it gave no clue as to what the Narendra Modi government’s vision is to revive and revitalise the primary sector.”
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