Accordingly, it has been my constant endeavour to make the budgetary exercise inclusive of all regions of the State and all sections of our society.
One of the historical achievements of the present coalition government is the highly successful holding of panchayat elections in the current financial year marked with very enthusiastic and popular participation of the people to the extent of 80% of the registered electorate. Janab Omar Abdullah Saheb had promised to transfer functions, functionaries and funds to the elected panchayats with a view to empowering the people at the grass roots level.
A comprehensive exercise has been concluded by the government in this behalf and orders have been issued in respect of 14 Government Departments/ Ministries to transfer a large number of listed activities, alongwith their other connected functions to the Panchayats, Block Development Councils and the District Planning & Development Boards. Devolution of about Rs 1,531 crore is expected to reach the elected bodies in the next financial year, inclusive of funds flowing under schemes like ‘MG-NREGA’ and other schemes, which shall devolve directly on the elected Panchayats. If the Panchayats can make proper schemes for utilization of ‘MG-NREGA’ funds and also develop their absorption capacity, they can increase their claims to around Rs 2,500 crore under this one scheme alone.
A plan provision of Rs 148 crore is proposed for the next year for Kargil and Leh districts. A sum of Rs 125 crore is proposed to be spent exclusively in the Border Blocks under the Border Area Development Programme (BADP). A provision of Rs 194 crore is being made for the Constituency Development Fund.
The next year’s plan outlay includes a sum of Rs 40 crore under the Tribal Sub-Plan, a sum of Rs 18 crore for the welfare of Gujjars & Bakerwals, a sum of Rs 16 crore for the welfare of Pahari Speaking People, a sum of Rs 21 crore for Scheduled Castes and OBCs and a sum of Rs 49 crore under the ‘Rashtriya Shram Vikas Yojana’. Additionally, a provision of Rs 139 crore has been made for the two Directorates of Social Welfare for executing Women and Child Development Schemes.
Separate outlays are also being proposed under various programmes exclusively aimed at the welfare and empowerment of women through the schemes being implemented by the Department of the Health and Medical Education Department, the Department of Social Welfare, the J&K Commission for Women and the J&K Women Development Corporation etc through the process of gender-budgeting.
Last year, I had referred to a provision of Rs 100 crore under the ‘Border Area Development Programme (BADP)’. It is a matter of satisfaction that under the ‘BADP’, an amount of Rs 125 crore has been authorized during the current year. I had also referred to a special package to address the unique development needs of other backward areas and bad pockets. During the current financial year, we have made a beginning by releasing an additionality of Rs 11.64 crore for taking up developmental projects in the identified areas. I propose to carry forward this process during the ensuing year and announce a special provision of Rs 50 crore for such areas over and above the likely BADP allocation of Rs 125 crore and the ‘Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF)’ allocation of Rs 52 crore.