Ayodhya Gets Rs 250-crore Chunk as Pilgrim Towns in Focus; Yogi Govt's 8th Budget Its Biggest Yet | Details
Ayodhya Gets Rs 250-crore Chunk as Pilgrim Towns in Focus; Yogi Govt's 8th Budget Its Biggest Yet | Details
The Uttar Pradesh budget for the 2024-25 fiscal is Rs 7,36,437.71 crore, and was dedicated to ‘Bhagwan Ram’. Other thrust areas include women empowerment, youth, infrastructure and agriculture

Development of pilgrim destinations, women empowerment, youth, infrastructure and a push to the agricultural sector were the main thrust areas in the budget presented by the Uttar Pradesh government on Monday. The state’s budget for the 2024-25 fiscal is Rs 7,36,437.71 crore, which was dedicated to “bhagwan Ram”.

The eighth consecutive budget by the Yogi Adityanath-led government is also its biggest yet, and will help not only in the state’s overall development but also help shed the tag of “bimaru state”. Last year’s budget was Rs 6.90 lakh crore.

“The state’s budget has been dedicated to Bhagwan Ram and will ensure ‘lok mangal’ (public welfare). In the beginning of the budget, in the middle and at the end, Lord Shri Ram is there in every word. In his thoughts and resolutions, Shri Ram is there because Shri Ram is synonymous with ‘lok mangal’,” said chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who called the budget balanced.

State finance minister Suresh Kumar Khanna, who presented his fifth consecutive budget in the legislative assembly, said it is an inclusive budget that caters to all.

Thrust on culture and tourism

The budget is expected to give a big push to pilgrim destinations, including Varanasi, Mathura, Prayagraj and Ayodhya, which alone has got an allocation of Rs 250 crore. Out of the total amount, Rs 100 crore will go into the overall development of the temple town while Rs 150 crore is meant for the expansion of the Maharishi Valmiki International Airport.

In addition, Rs 150 crore has been allocated for the establishment of the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Varanasi while Rs 100 crore has been set aside for upcoming Mahakumbh in Prayagraj.

“Our social and cultural sector has got a lot of encouragement due to the construction of the grand temple of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. Ayodhya has become a big tourist centre of the world. There has been a huge increase in the number of tourists coming here from India and across the world, which has greatly improved our economic condition,” Khanna said.

Other development works in culture and tourism, which the state government proposed under the budget, are Rs 14.68 crore for the establishment of Nishad Raj Guha Sanskritik Kendra in Shringverpur; Rs 11.79 crore for a music college at Hariharpur in Azamgarh district; and Rs 10.53 crore for the Maharishi Valmiki Cultural Centre in Chitrakoot. In addition, Rs 10 crore has been proposed for the International Ramayana and Vedic Research Institute in Ayodhya, which includes the beautification and development works being carried out in Ayodhya, Varanasi, Chitrakoot, Lucknow, Vindhyachal, Prayagraj, Naimisharanya, Gorakhpur, Mathura, Bateshwar Dham, Garhmukteshwar, Shuktirtha Dham, Maa Shakumbhari Devi, Sarnath among other important tourist places.

Rs 3,000-crore boost to agriculture

Agriculture also got a boost as Khanna said the target is to achieve a growth rate of 5.1 percent in the sector. He announced three schemes to push forward.

A provision of Rs 460 crore has been made for three new agriculture-related schemes – Rs 200 crore set aside for State Agricultural Development Scheme; another Rs 200 crore for the World Bank-assisted UP Agri Scheme; and the third scheme for the installation of automatic weather station and rain gauge in blocks and panchayats has got an allocation of Rs 60 crore.

Khanna said the Chief Minister Khet Suraksha Yojana (farm security scheme) is also being started with a provision of Rs 50 crore. Other than this, there is an outlay of Rs 2,400 crore for providing electricity at concessional rates to private tube wells of farmers.

Youth employment a highlight

Youth employment is next in the priority list. Khanna said the state government has so far been successful in bringing about 6 crore people out of poverty. “Today, the unemployment rate in the state is only 2 percent,” he said.

He also announced that the semiconductor policy has been approved, which he said will pave the way for the establishment and development of manufacturing units in the state bringing in large-scale investment. Uttar Pradesh has become the fourth state to bring such a policy.

While giving numbers, he said 1,79,112 employment opportunities have been created benefiting 22,00,389 beneficiaries in the MSME sector under the Mukhyamantri Yuva Swarojgar Yojana; 1,92,193 jobs were created through 13,597 beneficiaries under the One District One Product financing scheme; at least 4.08 lakh jobs were created under Vishwakarma Shram Samman Yojana and One District One Product Skill Upgradation and Toolkit Scheme; 25,000 employment opportunities were made available to students of more than 700 institutes affiliated with AKTU in the previous academic session; 12.15 lakh youths were trained under Uttar Pradesh Skill Development Mission, of which 4.13 lakh were employed in reputed companies.

Women empowerment schemes

The finance minister also announced a big hike for beneficiaries under the Pension Scheme for Destitute Women. He said the amount payable has been increased from Rs 500 per month to Rs 1,000 per month.

“A total of 31,28,000 destitute women have benefited from the scheme till the third quarter of 2023-2024,” he added.

In addition, Khanna said under the Women Farmer Empowerment Project, the target is to provide technical support by forming 200 producer groups in the 2024-2025 fiscal.

Heavy allocations to infrastructure

The total outlay for the next fiscal has new infrastructure-related schemes worth Rs 24,863.57 crore. At least Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated for the Ganga Expressway, whose budget is Rs 2,057 crore; Rs 500 crore has been set aside for Link Expressway; Rs 346 crore for Agra Metro; Rs 400 crore for Atal Industrial Infrastructure Mission; Rs 3,668 crore for PM Gram Sadak Yojana; and Rs 3,948 crore for PM Awas scheme.

Similarly, the state government has allocated Rs 400 crore for a medical college in Varanasi; Rs 7,350 crore for the National Rural Health Mission; Rs 1,100 crore for free supply of water to farmers.

‘Historic budget’

Adityanath declared the budget historic and said there had been an increase of 6.7 percent as compared to previous state budgets and, for the first time, more than Rs 2 lakh crore has been kept for capital expenditure.

“There has been an increase of 6.7 percent compared to the earlier budgets. It also presents the achievements of the ‘double engine’ government dedicated to PM (Narendra) Modi’s vision of ‘sabka saath, sabka vishwas, sabka vikas and sabka prayas’,” he said during a press conference after the budget was presented.

He added that this is the first time Rs 2,30,782 crore has been kept for capital expenditure in the budget, which shows that if money is spent on infrastructure, employment will also be generated and the economy will be strong.

“If we compare the GDP of Uttar Pradesh in 2016-17, which was almost Rs 12 lakh crore, and now if we talk about it in 2024-25, it will be successful in reaching Rs 25 lakh crore,” he said, adding that the government has succeeded in doubling the average person’s income.

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