In her 2020 Budget speech on Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of welfare schemes for various sectors, from sanitation and water to housing and financial inclusion. With a focus on uplifting the underprivileged, Sitharaman said: “Guided by ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’, our government and prime minister added manifold speed and scaled up the implementation of schemes and programmes that directly benefited the poor and the disadvantaged.”
With a total allocation of Rs12,300 crore for the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2020-21, the government is committed to staying an open defecation-free country. Sitharaman, however, admitted that a lot more needs to be done for liquid and grey water management. “Focus would also be on solid waste collection, source segregation and processing,” she said.
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana allocation has increased by about 8.5 percent to Rs27,500 crore over revised estimates for the current year. “The allocation is definitely going to benefit more people. Along with this, the decision to extend the timeline by one year for claiming additional interest payment deduction by house owners and tax holiday for developers is a welcome move to boost affordable housing,” says Ashok Varma, leader-social sector, PwC India.
The Jal Jeevan Mission which aims to provide piped water to all households promotes not only water harvesting and desalination, but also recharging existing sources. The government has already approved Rs3.6 lakh crore for the mission; for 2020-21, an addition Rs11,500 crore has been allocated.
“The allocations are mostly in line with the last year, with the exception of MNREGS where the proposed outlay of Rs61,500 crore is lower than the revised estimate for the current year of Rs71,000 crore. This may be inadequate for the increased number of days of employment targeted in 2021,” adds Varma.