Agriculture, rural development and social sector is the focus of Budget 2016
In the Union Budget 2016, the Government has allocated Rs 35,984 crore for agriculture and farmer welfare, and plans to double the income of farmers by 2022. In addition, to increase the agricultural production and productivity, the Government plans to strengthen the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana and will implement it in mission mode. Also, 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under irrigation under this scheme. Laying down the road map for rural development in the Union Budget, Rs 38,500 crore has been allocated towards MGNREGA in 2016-17. This allocation has been increased by over Rs 3,800 crore this year. This will be the highest budget spend on MGNREGA if the total amount is spent.
Jat agitation brings Delhi's water crisis to the forefront
Post the destruction of the Munak canal in Haryana--which supplies water to the capital--during the Jat stir, the Supreme Court has ordered both the Governments to resolve the water dispute at the earliest. Last week, the agitators had damaged the 150 km stretch of the canal and the Haryana Government deployed the army to protect the same. It seemed that it will take almost 15 days to restore the water supply to the capital. However, water supply in some parts of Delhi has been restored. Following the incident, the Delhi Government has ordered the Jal Board to prepare a backup plan for alternate sources of water in order to avoid such a crisis in the future. Also, per experts, the capital has the potential to overcome such crises if it revives its wetlands and put its own reservoirs to use.
NGT pulls up DJB over Yamuna expenditure
The National Green Tribunal has reprimanded the Delhi Jal Board for spending Rs 576 crore in the current financial year on Yamuna cleaning projects which is in contradiction to the former's earlier orders. DJB's affidavit detailing the expenditure has been deemed insufficient, inadequate and vague by the Tribunal. Last November, when the NGT learnt that nearly Rs 900 crore was spent on Yamuna cleaning, it ordered the DJB not to spend any more money without approval due to limitation of finances. However, despite the orders, the latter had paid out to projects related to sewage networks and establishment of sewage treatment plants.
Maharashtra eases green nod process for sand mining
While relaxing the environmental clearance process for sand mining, the Maharashtra Government will be handing over the responsibility of granting clearances to the district administration for areas up to five hectares. Though the Government calls it an effort to decentralise and speed up the process, activists fear that the decision will benefit the sand mafia and do no good for the State. Along with this, the Government has also announced a list of people who would not require environment clearance for mining sand and clay from the river beds like potters, tile makers and gram panchayats.
Odisha Government mulls compensatory irrigation for industries
The Odisha Government has proposed a concept of ‘compensatory irrigation’ asking industries to create irrigation area twice the loss of such land. The guideline proposes for an extension of the canal system if the compensatory irrigation will be created in the same project area, else the project proponent will bear the cost of creating the ayacut through lift irrigation. However, per activists, the guideline will make it easy for industries wanting to acquire irrigated land. Also, diverting the irrigated land would worsen the water crisis in the State which is already reeling under drought.
This is a roundup of important policy matters from February 22 - 29, 2016. Also read last week's news roundup.