Rs 29,000 crore has been set aside for the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry for the next fiscal, a 20 per cent increase over the 2018-2019 financial year with the Centre's programmes of maternity benefit and child protection services getting a major boost in the Budget announced on Friday.
The allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), a maternity benefit programme, was more than doubled to Rs 2,500 crore from Rs 1,200 crore. Under the programme, Rs 6,000 each is provided to pregnant women and lactating mothers.
The Child Protection Services programme under the Integrated Child Development Services was increased to Rs 1,500 crore from Rs 925 crore.
WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi said that she will prepare a roadmap for her ministry for the next five years, wherein integrated large facilities will be established across the country for women and children in need of care and protection.
Rs 29,164.90 crore has been earmarked for the WCD ministry for the next financial year, a 20 per cent increase over the Rs 24,758.62 crore allocated to it last year. A major chunk of it -- Rs 19,834.37 crore -- is for anganwadi services.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' will get Rs 280 crore as compared to Rs 200 crore in the current financial year.
The National Nutrition Mission, which strives to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low-birth weight babies and aims to benefit 10 crore people across the country, was allocated Rs 3,400 crore. The allocation for the Mahila Shakti Kendras has been increased to Rs 150 crore.
In total, the centrally sponsored schemes got a boost of Rs 4,400 crore to Rs 28,914.
The allocation for the National Creche Scheme has been enhanced from Rs 30 crore to Rs 50 crore, which will enable working women to safely leave their children in creches while they are out at work.
Similarly, the allocation for Working Women's Hostel scheme witnessed over three times increase from Rs 52 crore to Rs 165 crore (Budgetary Estimates 2019-20).
With all the components of the Mahila Shakti Kendras scheme having been put in place, the budget for this scheme has been increased from Rs 115 crore to Rs 150 crore.
On the issue of providing safety for all women, the budget for UJJAWALA (WCD Ministry's scheme for rescued trafficked women) has been increased from Rs 20 crore to Rs 30 crore.
Similarly, the budget for widows' homes has also been increased from Rs 8 crore to Rs 15 crore.
Effectively, the total budget under the Mission for Protection and Empowerment of Women stands increased from Rs 1,156 crore to Rs 1,330 crore.
Reacting to the budgetary allocation for the WCD Ministry, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights said the Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme which forms a part of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, seems to have been 'forgotten'.
"Even while reporting its significant achievements in the last four years (2014-18), the Ministry of Women and Child Development failed to report on the progress made under this scheme and the budgetary implications of the scheme are never disclosed," the child rights NGO said.
On the National Scheme for Incentive to Girl Child for Secondary Education, it said, "Clearly, education of the girl child does not seem to be a priority."
"One of the key objectives of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme is to advance education of the girl child. While the budget for the scheme remains the same between 2018-19 and 2019-20, how much is allocated towards this objective and spent on it is not known.
"On the other hand, the budget for the National Scheme for Incentive to Girl Child for Secondary Education has seen a substantial cut of 61 per cent, reducing from Rs 255.90 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 100 crore in 2019-18," the NGO said.
The National Scheme for Incentive to Girl Child for Secondary Education aims to promote school enrolment of girl child in the age group of 14-18 at the secondary stage.
Commenting on the interim Budget, Puja Marwaha, the CEO at CRY –- Child Rights and You -- said, "The Interim Budget, 2019, has shown positive trends towards the vulnerable sections of our society, including farmers, small entrepreneurs and the tax-paying middle classes."
"Yet, for almost 40 per cent of India's population comprising its children, it failed to address the expectations of the nation, as children were neither a part of the Budget speech, nor were they visible anywhere in the 10 point vision for 2030," the NGO said.
Less than 2% hike in Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry budget
The 2019-2020 budgetary allocation for the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, which caters to the welfare of the backward classes and those with disabilities, saw less than two per cent hike compared to the current fiscal.
Funds allocated for the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment for upcoming financial year saw a mere rise of 0.6 per cent, Rs 7,800 crore from Rs 7,750 crore in 2018-19.
The allocation for the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities saw an increase of 7 per cent, from Rs 1,070 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 1,144.90 crore in 2019-20.
The government, in a statement, said, "The allocation of Rs 56,619 crore made in budget estimates (BE) of 2018-19 for scheduled caste, further increased to Rs 62,474 crore in revised estimates (RE) is proposed to be enhanced to Rs 76,801 crore in BE for 2019-20, an increase of 35.6 per cent over BE of 2018-19."
Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said a Welfare Development Board to frame special strategies for the benefit of the hard-to-reach denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities will be set up under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
He said a committee under the NITI Aayog will also be set up to complete the task of identifying denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities not yet formally classified.
The interim Budget for 2019-20 saw an allocation of Rs 39.87 crore for the five national commissions, including the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Backward Classes and National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, as against the allocation of Rs 33.72 for 2018-19.
Allocation for the central scholarships which National Fellowship for SCs, National Fellowship for Other Backward Classes and Economically Backward Classes, National Overseas Scholarship for SCs and OBCs also saw a decline from Rs 500 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 390.50 crore for the upcoming financial year.
A new allocation of Rs 215 crore was made for the Public Sector Undertakings, including the National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation and the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation.
Among the other new allocations, Rs 30 crore was earmarked for the Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers, Rs 105 crore for Assistance to Voluntary Organisations for Programmes Relating to Aged, Rs 105 crore for the Scheme for Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse, Rs 5 crore for Integrated Programme for Rehabilitation of Beggars and Rs 1 crore was allocated for Scheme for Transgender Persons.
The Assistance to Voluntary Organisations for OBCs saw an allocation of Rs 30 crore.
The Pre-Matric Scholarship for SC Students saw an increase of allocation from Rs 125 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 355 crore in 2019-20, the Pre-Matric Scholarship for Children of those engaged in unclean occupations and prone to heath hazards saw an allocation of Rs 5 crore.
Schemes for differently abled persons saw an allocation of Rs 1144.90 crore in 2019-20 from Rs 1070 in 2018-19.
Centre cuts pollution control budget, draws flak from experts
The Centre's decision to cut down the budget on pollution control by 50 per cent this year has drawn criticism from environment experts who said while the nation reels under severe air pollution problem, it was shocking that the government has reduced its budgetary allocation.
The interim budget presented on Friday reduced the budget for pollution abatement from Rs 20 crore in the last fiscal to Rs 10 crore for 2019-20 and has not allocated any amount towards new and renewable energy.
Condemning this move, a member of the city-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the budget was "election friendly" and does not clarify on several taxes associated with renewable energy.
The activists were also enraged about the government barely mentioning about environment and climate change and not elaborating on financial allocation to the recently-launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which aims to reduce air pollution by 20-30 per cent by 2024.
Calling the budget a rhetoric, advocate and activist Gaurav Bansal said that by not allocating required money for tackling air pollution, the government has 'failed to implement the NCAP' and insulted the national capital which has become a 'gas chamber'.
"If there is no budget how will the authorities tackle this problem. This budget is rhetoric with elections in mind. They have failed to implement NCAP by not giving any budget regarding it.
"They have reduced air pollution budget which is an insult to the national capital which has already become a gas chamber. Uttar Pradesh is also facing severe air pollution problems," Bansal said.
Sharing the view, Priya Sreenivasan, renewable energy expert at CSE, said, "It appears to be an election-friendly budget. The renewable sector was awaiting a lot of clarity. The tax clarities in the renewable sector would have been helpful."
Speaking about the amount allocated to pollution abatement, another member-activist of the CSE said neither last year's allocation was insufficient nor this year's.
"Pollution and climate change are big issues. The government needs to have a look at the problem properly. Even NCAP was launched without any budget allocation or framework which should have been mentioned in the budget," Polash Mukherjee, research associate at CSE, said.
The union budget has not changed the budgetary allocation for climate change action plan from last year by keeping it constant at Rs 40 crore.
A statement released by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) said environment and climate change issues hardly found mention in the budget.
"The finance minister emphasised on the rejuvenation of rivers and water bodies as among the grand vision for the next 10 years. Increasing the use of bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides and reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides is an important aspect of cleaning rivers and water bodies, which the budget could have addressed," it said.
Science ministries see a marginal hike in budget allocation
A combined allocation of Rs 14,697 crore has been made to two science ministries in the 2019-20 Interim Budget, recording a marginal hike from last years's allotment, figures suggest.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), which has several crucial institutions like the India Meteorological Department (IMD) under it, has been given Rs 1,901 crore.
The MoES had been allocated Rs 1,800 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 1,541 crore in 2017-18.
A senior official of the MoES said funds would be spent on projects like adding new radars, automatic weather stations (AWS), procuring aircraft for conducting atmospheric experiments and also a submersible vessel for deep ocean mining research.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (S&T) has three wings under it -- the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Each department has unique expertise and together have over 70 institutes under them with very niche research areas.
The DST has been allocated Rs 5,321 crore, which is Rs 207 crore more than the 2018-19 Budget. The DST also executes some of the high-ticket projects like adding new supercomputers in the country and interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems.
The DBT has been allocated Rs 2,580 crore, which is Rs 169 crore more than the last fiscal.
The CSIR has been allocated Rs 4,895 crore. Last year, the allocation for CSIR was Rs 4,572 crore.