The Union Budget presents a mixed bag for NCR while raising hopes of a greater focus on ‘swachhta’ in the Capital
The Capital city will receive Rs 957.50 crore, an amount less than the grant allocated by the Ministry of Home Affairs in its last budget. Union Budget 2021-22 presented on February 1 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, saw the cut from 2020-21’s revised estimate of Rs 1,115.99 crore — the budget estimate then was Rs 966.00 crore.
Furthermore, the city’s lifeline, Delhi Metro has received no allocation under the ‘Object Head Grants for Creation of Capital Assets’ much like in the previous term of 2020-21.
Looking further into allocations of funds, the ‘Total Transfer of Resources to States and Union Territories with Legislature’ which includes Delhi and Puducherry and the new union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, the budget estimate is a total of Rs 48,686.07 crore, again less than the previous term (revised) budget of Rs 50,963.28 crore.
The one section that does receive almost Rs 2,000 crore more is under the ‘Centrally Sponsored Schemes’ which is Rs 8,064.63 crore for 2021-22, compared to 2020-21 revised budget of Rs 6,583.17 crore.
Other than that, under the ‘Other Categories of Expenditure (Revenue)’ one sees a decrease in expenditure from 2020-21 (revised estimate) which was at Rs 43,300.54 crore to now becoming Rs 40,444.29 crore. Furthermore, ‘Under Central Sector Schemes (Revenue)’ which was revised to Rs 1,079.55 crore in 2020-21 from the earlier Rs 299.41 crores, in the same term, has now become Rs 177.13 crore in the budget of 2021-22.
Another category affected is Delhi’s link to its neighbouring states from where much of the migration takes place into the Capital city. The National Capital Region Transport Corporation which is a venture between state governments and the Centre to create better connectivity between National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – has received a fraction of the budget compared to last year with an estimate of Rs 188 crore in 2021-22. In 2020-21 it received a budget of Rs 398.40 crore, which in 2019-20 was Rs 274.25 crore.
The budget speech did, however, add that the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, 260 km which remains to be constructed will be awarded before March 21 of next year. The Delhi-Dehradun economic corridor, stretching to 210 km will be initiated in the current financial year, with construction beginning in 2021-22. And finally promising the Delhi –Katra highway construction to commence in 2021-22. A highway opposed by farmers of Punjab for the acquisition of their land.
Interestingly, the Indian Council of Medical Research, which has its home in New Delhi has even during a pandemic managed to get a budget cut with Rs 156.00 crore allocated for 2021-22, from last year’s 2020-21 budget of Rs 282.22 (revised estimate).
The government has however announced a new centrally sponsored scheme, PM AtmaNirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, which will be launched with an outlay of about Rs 64,180 crores over 6 years. This will develop capacities of primary, secondary, and tertiary care Health Systems, strengthen existing national institutions and create new institutions, to cater to detection and cure of new and emerging diseases.
Sitharaman also announced Rs 35,000 crores for Covid-19 vaccine in 2021-22, adding that she was committed to provide further funds if required. Although we don’t know how much of this budget would come to Delhi, we do know that the total Budget outlay for Health and Wellbeing is Rs 2,23,846 crores an increase of 137 %, from the last budget year.
What also concerns Delhi is its air, and the Centre has yet again brought hopes of cleaner air. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced Rs 2,217 crore for 42 urban centres with a million-plus population in this budget, “to tackle the burgeoning problem of air pollution”. While we aren’t certain if Delhi would be included in this, the fact that the Capital faces an air crisis every year certainly qualifies in the city for it.
Early-half of 2020 saw unusually clear skies due to the Covid enforced lockdown closing down industries, and seeing minimal vehicular movement, but by the second half – as things slowly returned to normal and stubble burning in neighbouring states began – the Capital city was battling hazardous pollution levels.
In this regard, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare it had started the ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for in-situ Management of Crop Residue’ which in the budget of 2020-21 was Rs 600 crore. This time the budget allocation has increased to Rs 700 crore in 2021-22.
It calls this scheme as specially launched to support the efforts of the government of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidise machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue.
For further ‘swachhta’ of urban India, the budget says it intends to focus on complete faecal sludge management and waste water treatment, source segregation of garbage, reduction in single-use plastic, reduction in air pollution by effectively managing waste from construction-and-demolition activities and bio-remediation of all legacy dump sites. The Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 will be implemented with a total financial allocation of Rs 1,41,678 crore over a period of 5 years from 2021-2026.
Perhaps dump-sites like the Ghazipur landfill will finally be tackled. Delhi’s residents could further benefit from the launch of ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ which aims universal water supply in all 4,378 Urban Local Bodies with 2.86 crore household tap connections, as well as liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) cities.
Some areas in Delhi still do not receive piped water supply into their homes and lack proper sanitation facilities. Such promises, made for some years now, are waiting to be fulfilled.