Is the Modi Government Truly Committed to Rural Development? -Bharat Dogra
Declining budget allocation and actual expenditure on schemes geared towards agriculture, sanitation and housing have brought the government's seriousness to the cause of rural welfare under suspicion.
Direct benefit transfer has dominated the majority of the discussion on the Interim Budget in the context of agriculture. However, in order to properly understand the seriousness of the government to the cause of farmers and related issues of rural development, we should also assess to what extent the budgetary commitments of the previous year have been fulfilled.
In the case of the high-priority Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, for instance, the revised estimate for the previous year was significantly less than the budget estimate. There are various components of this scheme under various ministries. Taking all these together, last year’s (2018-19) revised estimate was Rs 8,408 crore compared to the original budget estimate of Rs 9,690 crore. The actual expenditure on this scheme, however, was Rs 10,780 crore in 2015-16 – more than the budget estimates for 2018-19 as well as 2019-20. Yet, all official rhetoric suggests that the scheme is advancing rapidly.
When it comes to promoting organic farming, the rhetoric levels of the Modi government are even higher. Let us look at the scheme which is supposed to promote this – the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY). The scheme’s revised estimate in 2018-19 was reduced to Rs 300 crore compared to the original budget estimate of Rs 360 crore.
If we go back a bit further, in 2017-18, the actual expenditure on PKVY was Rs 203 crore compared to the original budget estimate this year for Rs 350 crore. In 2016-17, only Rs 153 crore out of the allotted Rs 297 crore were actually spent. In fact, for all years since this scheme was started under the Modi government, the expenditure has been significantly less than the allocation, although this is supposed to be a big priority for the government.
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