Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday presented the last Budget for the state before Assembly elections are held later this year. The Budget focused on agriculture subsidies, farm loans and water conservation projects.
Siddaramaiah, who also holds the Finance portfolio, has allocated Rs 5,849 crore for the agriculture sector. Of this, Rs 845 crore will be earmarked under the Karnataka Raitha Surkasha Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana, Rs 50 crore has been allotted to organic farming, and an agriculture college will be set up in South Karnataka’s Chamrajanagar district, he said.
The chief minister also announced a scheme – “Raita Belaku” – for the economic independence of dry land farmers across the state. Under this, 70 lakh dry land farmers will get a guaranteed annual income between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 per hectare, he said. A total of Rs 3,500 crore has been allocated for this scheme, which the chief minister claimed is the “biggest national programme in terms of area covered and number of farmers impacted”.
Siddaramaiah also announced that Rs 1 lakh of loans will be waived upon a farmer’s death. The waiver applies to primary agriculture credit co-operative societies.
The government has allocated Rs 200 crore for the Christian community, and Rs 80 crore towards programmes for the comprehensive development of Jain and Sikh communities, according to The New Indian Express. A Diversity and Minority Study chair will be set up at the Bengaluru University, said Siddaramaiah.
The chief minister also announced a total allocation of Rs 26,846 crore towards the education sector, The Hindu reported. This includes the setting up of closed-circuit television cameras at all government primary and high schools, updating libraries, establishing science committees in high schools and pre-university colleges.
He also announced that the full fees of all girl students in government-run institutions, till the postgraduate level, will be waived. Free bus passes have been announced for all students across the state.
For the health sector, Siddaramaiah allocated Rs 6,645 crore. The Universal Health Scheme (Arogya Karnataka Yojane) will be implemented from February 2018, he added.
Nearly Rs 2,000 crore was announced for the environment sector. Siddaramaiah announced Rs 10 crore for watershed management. Forty-two continuous air quality monitoring stations will be set up across the state at a cost of Rs 96 crore, he said.
Siddaramaiah also announced a package of Rs 2,500 crore for Bengaluru’s development, according to The Times of India.
Elections are expected to be held around May.