Giving a major thrust to rural India in the Union Budget, the government today announced bringing one crore households out of poverty and making 50,000 gram panchayats poverty free by 2019, besides allocating highest ever funds to rural job scheme MGNRGEA. Stating that improving the life of people in rural areas is “a non-negotiable agenda for the government”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government would start a Mission Antyodaya for poverty alleviation in the country. “With a clear focus on improving accountability, outcomes and convergence, we will undertake a Mission Antyodaya to bring one crore households out of poverty and to make 50,000 gram panchayats poverty free by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of (Mahatma) Gandhiji,” Jaitley said in his speech.
Allocating higher funds to all the major schemes for rural areas, he said, “The budget provision of Rs 38,500 crore under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in 2016-17 has been increased to Rs 48,000 crore in 2017-18.”
Besides providing employment, MGNREGA should create productive assets to improve farm productivity and incomes, he said, adding that this is the highest ever allocation for MGNREGA.
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Exuding confidence that the construction of roads under under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has increased to 133 km per day, he said the government will connect 65,000 eligible habitations by constructing 2.23 lakh km of roads in rural areas by 2019.
But, the budget allocation for the scheme remains constant at Rs 19,000 crore.
Whereas, the allocation of another flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Gram Aawaas Yojana (gramin) has been increased to Rs 23,000 crore from Rs 15,000 crore.
Similarly, the allocation for National Rural Livelihood Mission for promotion of skill development has also been increased to Rs 4,500 crore in 2017-18.
In a bid to ensure safe drinking water to over 28,000 arsenic and fluoride affected habitations in the next four years, the government will start a sub-mission of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme.
In this year’s budget, the allocation for the Rural Development Ministry has also been increased by more than 10 per cent to Rs 1,07,758 crore from Rs 97,760 crore.