Nitish Administration Announces 2018-19 State Budget

Deputy CM and Finance Minister Sushil Kumar Modi arriving at Bihar Assembly to present the 2018-2019 budget on Tuesday.

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Patna: It's the time of the year when the ruling party beats its chest in celebration while the party out of power accuses the ruling party of 'continuing to move on the path on destruction' because poor and downtrodden will be left to die in the lack of any assistance from the government.

On Tuesday, the Nitish government unveiled the Rs. 176,990 crore 2018-19 general budget for Bihar that, like every year in the past, promises to usher significant change in the state. As anticipated, reaction to the budget was on the party line – while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal – U, and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) hailed the new budget, opposition parties led by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) slammed the numbers saying there was nothing new for the backwards or minorities in it and the budget left much to be desired.

Nonetheless, a beaming Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi with a briefcase in his hand, a scene too familiar to any Indian who follows the budget session in the state Assembly or in the Lok Sabha, described the new budged as 'balanced' as it took every economic aspect and demographic differences into consideration that would spell progress and development on all fronts.

"In this budget, we have taken everything into consideration on a district by district basis in an attempt to identify their unique needs and requirements. People spoke to us and we listened to what they had to say. Only after taking everything into account we have come up with this budget which is the most pragmatic budget in the recent history of Bihar," Modi said.

The salient features of budget include development of the 'Organic Belt' along the banks of Ganga between Patna and Bhagalpur where the government will grant Rs. 6000 to farmers to grow organic vegetables on a .30 acre of land made available to them. Further, the government will allot flats in Patna that remain unallocated for years.

The government also plans to transform the dilapidated Moinul Haque Stadium in Patna into a world-class sporting facility to host both national and international tournaments at all levels.

Moving south in the Magadh division, the budget allocates money for a cultural center of international standard in Bodh Gaya and a host of new colleges to impart degrees in agricultural engineering, community science, food technology, and Biological Technology, among others.

In the north, the government has earmarked money for three new agricultural colleges in West Champaran and Muzaffarpur districts and a farm machinery testing and training center in Pusa where land has already been allocated for the purpose.

In Darbhanga, a planetarium/science museum will be set up at a cost of Rs. 164 crore along with an auditorium to promote art and drama in the region.

The Nitish administration also plans to increase the capacity of cattle food factory in Supaul and initiate a tissue culture laboratory in Bhagalpur and Supaul.

The 2018-19 budget also takes into account the protection of Ganga Dolphins by declaring the stretch between Kahalgaon and Sultanganj in Bhagalpur district dolphin sanctuary' while also allocating money for electric cremation centers in Bhagalpur, Munger, Mokama, and Simaria ghats.

A number of new bridges and new roads make the highlights of the new budget with Rs. 17396.67 crore set aside for the purpose.

Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Chief Minister touted 10.3% growth in Bihar that outnumbers the national average of 3.3% by a large margin.

In education sector, the government has allocated a whopping 32,125 crore that includes opening of it is in 16 districts.

In the healthcare sector, the Nitish administration has set Rs. 7,793 crore that includes opening advanced eye care centers in all medical colleges of Bihar.

The government also sets aside Rs. 10,505 crore for rural development, Rs. 2,841 crore for various developmental projects. Rs. 8,694.43 crore on Panchayati Raj, Rs. 10,188 crore on social welfare, Rs. 862.21 crore on revenue and land reforms, Rs. 4,413 crore on urban development, and Rs. 10,257.66 crore on making electricity to each household in Bihar.

Cyber-cafes in all panchayat, a zoo safari in Rajgir, and the construction of a Bihar Assembly Bhawan in New Delhi are also part of the new budget.

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