Jairam Ramesh seeks to minimise budget cut for rural development

Gives details to finance ministry on the impact of revised budget estimates on individual schemes

By Jitendra
Published: Thursday 14 November 2013

The steep cut in budgetary allocations for social welfare schemes in an election year seems to have become a great cause of worry for Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. He has shot off a letter to finance minister P Chidambaram, expressing displeasure over the proposed Rs 15,000 crore funds cut in rural development schemes in the revised budget estimates (RE). This was a day after Ramesh wrote to the prime minister, protesting the decision of the finance ministry over the proposed funds cut.

The four-page letter details possible scheme-wise impact because of the steep cut in budgetary allocation. The letter was written after Ramesh's meeting with senior officials of his ministry. The officials made a presentation to the minister, stating how the proposed reduction would impact ongoing programmes as well as planned programmes. The budget allocation for rural development this year was around Rs 80,000 crore.

“The minister in his letter has also suggested choosing a middle path by reducing the funds cut,” said a senior rural development ministry official.

“The formal communication about the proposed RE would possibly arrive on Monday. Before arriving at a final decision, the minister has been trying his best to minimise the proposed cut,” said a source.

The proposed cut would affect almost every scheme. It would impact the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) more. The allocation for PMGSY has been reduced from Rs 21,700 crore to Rs 12,700 crore. Funds allocation for UPA government's flagship programme, Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), is proposed to be cut from Rs 33,000 crore to Rs 31,000 crore. Apart from it, Integrated Water Management Programme (IWMP), Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) and National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) would also face severe funds crunch.

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