The government on Thursday decided to increase allocations to areas identified in the National Common Minimum Programme. It allocated Rs 12,000 crore (Rs 120 billion), which is Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) higher than that announced in the Budget for 2004-05.
The Plan body allocated Rs 4,725 crore (Rs 47.25 billion) to the states, as against Rs 4,000 crore (Rs 40 billion) announced earlier. Allocations to central ministries during 2004-05 was raised by Rs 1,275 crore (Rs 12.75 billion) to Rs 7,275 crore (Rs 72.75 billion).
Social sector programmes and infrastructure-related areas like Railways and the Sethu Samudram Ship Canal Project got higher allocations through the central sector plan.
The allocation for education was hiked by 85 per cent to Rs 7,532 crore (Rs 75.32 billion). Of the additional Rs 2,250 crore (Rs 22.5 billion), Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) will be made available for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rs 250 crore (Rs 2.5 billion) for higher education.
The higher allocation for education will be funded through the 2 per cent cess announced in the Budget. If the realisation from the cess is lower than the Rs 4,900 crore (Rs 49 billion) projected for this fiscal, the allocation will be carried forward to next year.
The additional allocation for the mid-day meal scheme will be made for a new scheme to be implemented at the state level, while the current allocation will continue to go via the Centre. Next year onwards, the scheme will be transferred to the states, which will get the entire allocation for the scheme.
The food-for-work programme, which has been allocated an additional Rs 2,020 crore (Rs 20.20 billion), is to be implemented in 150 districts and provide a minimum 100 days of employment.
The additional allocation of Rs 1,137 crore (Rs 11.37 billion) for railways represents a 42.73 per cent increase in the allocation for the sector. While Rs 237 crore (Rs 2.37 billion) has been allocated for modernisation, Rs 900 crore (Rs 9 billion) is the first tranche payment for the backlog of arrears under the special Railway Safety Fund.
The remaining amount will be cleared over the next two years. An allocation of Rs 850 crore (Rs 8.5 billion) has also been made for expansion of tracks. Allocations for drinking water supply, science and technology, biotechnology and health and family welfare was also increased.
The Plan body, in consultation with various ministries, had carried out a detailed assessment of the needs of key sectors.The initial demand for funds from 40 departments totaled Rs 45,000 crore (Rs 450 billion). This was reduced to 12 departments demanding Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 200 billion). The commission further reduced the demand to Rs 7,250 crore (Rs 72.5 billion).