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Union Budget
Union Budget 2016: Activist says this is more or less an election budget
Environmental activist Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy deplored over Arun Jaitley's union budget and felt this is more of less an election budget, keeping in view of forthcoming assembly elections in as many as nine states during next two years. Though majority of news papers put headings in favour of agriculture and rural development without going in to details on issues and allocations, state-wise, he was disappointed and makes the following observations.

1.Plan Expenditure: As usual the Finance Minister divided expenditure [19.78 lakh cores] under plan [5.5 lakh cores] and non-plan [14.28 lakh crores] categories. Plan expenditure is divided under capital and revenue expenditures. Electricity generation, irrigation and rural development, construction of roads, bridges and canals, science & technology, environment, etc comes under this. These were decided by the Planning Commission and executed under Five-Year Plans. NDA government abolished Panning Commission and thus five-year planning. In its place introduced Neeti Ayog a political body in place of technical body like Planning Commission. So, allocations go as per political decisions the funds are distributed to win the elections. Last Budget allocations were not spent as planned as there were no funds in some cases. Government loans stand nearly double to the Budgets allocation of 2016-17. Thus, the interest payments are huge.

2. Rural-agriculture: Previous NDA government introduced "watersheds – food for work" programme. Most of the funds under this programme went in to the pockets of ruling junta. Few years back, at a felicitation function to "SaiNath" a journalist, the top editors of News media observed "people used to go by bicycle are now moving in BMW cars" with this programme in Andhra Pradesh [undivided]. The life of the watershed projects that includes check-dams are less than 3 years in drought prone areas.  Same will be the case with the present proposals in this direction like wells, ponds, etc to increase the ground water. To achieve the target of doubling farmers' income by 2022, the short term projects are not the right solution but it is more important to complete the major irrigation projects along with the interlinking of rivers. Such projects were not provided funds under irrigation. Even Polavaram project received only Rs 100 crore in Andhra Pradesh even with its national status and Pranahita-Chevella did not get even this also in Telangana.

3.Agriculture: Agriculture needs an integrated policy. With piecemeal policy, there is no way the farmers' income will double by 2022. Agriculture sector is in severe stress. Though allocated around 400 crores to organic fertilizer production in urban areas through urban waste, however there is a big problem with transportation. The organic fertilizer production must be given incentives similar to chemical fertilizer at farmers' level. There is no such proposal except saying around 5 lakh acres will be brought under organic farming.  This is a miniscule of the total area under cultivation. The main thrust was given to chemical fertilizer agriculture. Though Aadhar linking [based on my proposal to government in December 2009] to disburse the subsidy component to farmers directly was proposed by UPA government and with the gas it is in operation, NDA government could not implement it. Some filed cases against Aadhar use in Supreme Court. The NDA government has not taken an initiative to counter this. Though they made strong effort to kill the land bill of 2013. With the same vigour they would have been pursued the implementation of Aadhar linked to fertilizer subsidy. In fact this will be beneficial to the government in countering the illegal use of about 35% of fertilizer. To counter suicides with high input costs, the crops/cropping pattern linked animal husbandry with strict crop rotation is needed. The GM & Hybrid seed use will counteract to animal husbandry and will encourage suicides.

4.Common man's income: During NDA regime to benefit business interest, lowered the interest rates by more than 1 per cent. This severely affected around 85 per cent of people living on interests. To counter this, Finance Minister in his budget has not included any succor but on the contrary introduced succor to banks as well as oil & gas companies.

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