Budget allocation for minorities to double
In what is likely to be fodder for the Opposition BJP before the elections, the coming Union Budget is likely to double the allocation for minorities’ welfare schemes.
Sources said the focus on minorities is in line with the UPA’s policy to woo Muslims, who are perceived to have drifted away from the Congress after the Babri Masjid demolition.
The BJP has already trained its guns on the Congress for “minority appeasement” and the enhanced allocations in this Budget, which are expected to rise to Rs 1,000 crore from Rs 500 crore currently, is likely to whip up this campaign further.
The UPA’s efforts to win back the Muslims had seen the government set up a ministry for minorities welfare and the Rajendra Sacchar committee to identify the areas of discrimination against Muslims.
The Ministry of Tribal Welfare, which is to implement another flagship scheme of the UPA — the conferring of land titles to about 80 million tribal people — would also get a hefty rise in allocations.
The Budget is likely to allocate Rs 805 crore for tribal welfare schemes as against Rs 500 crore last year. The ministry had projected a demand for Rs 945 crore, sources said.
The government is likely to announce incentive-based schemes for promotion of education among tribals and minorities in the Budget.
The children of these communities have been recording a high dropout rate and various appraisals have revealed flaws in the implementation of existing schemes.
The Ministry of Rural Development is likely to get a Rs 20,000 crore allocation for the flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
The scheme is to be extended from the existing 330 to all districts of the country from April 1. NREGA would form a major chunk of the ministry’s Rs 31,500 crore allocations. The ministry had received Rs 27,500 crore last year, while it had projected a demand for Rs 41,253 crore.
Poverty alleviation schemes in urban areas would get a major boost with allocations nearly doubling from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1,000 crore, official sources said.
Among the social sector ministries, the Ministry of Environment and Forests is expected to get allocation of Rs 1,500 crore as against Rs 1,351 crore last year, registering a nearly 11 per cent rise.
Likewise, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is likely to see a marginal increase from Rs 2,001 crore to Rs 2,200 crore in the Budget.