Rural Sector Gets Major Boost in Budget 2013-14

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The Union Budget for 2013-14, presented in Parliament by Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram in the ongoing Budget Session has enhanced the outlay to support schemes to build rural infrastructure and strengthen social safety nets.

The Ministry of Rural Development steers a number of flagship programmes and it has been allocated Rs 80,194 crore in 2013-14 as compared to Rs 55,000 crore in the previous year, marking an increase of 46 percent. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, MGNREGS will get Rs 33,000 crore, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, PMGSY will get Rs 21,700 crore, while Indira Awaas Yojana, IAY has been allocated Rs 15,184 crore. As the objectives of PMGSY have been substantially fulfilled in several States, PMGSY-II has been proposed to be carved out to help States such as Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan.

The Rural Housing Fund set up through the National Housing Bank is used to refinance lending institutions, including RRBs, that extend loans for rural housing. So far, 400,000 rural families have taken loans. Rs 6,000 crore has been allocated to the Rural Housing Fund in 2013-14, as against Rs 4,000 crore in the last budget.

NABARD operates the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF). RIDF has successfully utilised 18 tranches so far and the corpus of RIDF-XIX in 2013-14 has been raised to Rs 20,000 crore.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will receive Rs 37,330 crore in the 2013-14 budget. Of this, the new National Health Mission that combines the rural mission and the proposed urban mission will get Rs 21,239 crore, an increase of 24.3 percent over the Revised Estimate.

The Government has set an ambitious target of skilling 50 million people in the 12th Plan period, including 9 million in 2013-14. Funds will be released by the National Rural Livelihood Mission and the National Urban Livelihood Mission to be spent on skill development activities. In this regard, National Skill Development Corporation has been set up and is doing good work.

The Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) is a vital source of gap funding and it has been allocated Rs 11,500 crore in 2013-14 as well as another sum of Rs 1,000 crore for Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected districts. BRGF will include a State component for Bihar, the Bundelkand region, West Bengal, the KBK districts of Odisha and the 82 districts under the Integrated Action Plan.

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