New Delhi - The rural development ministry, which runs many of the UPA government's flagship programmes like rural job guarantee and road construction schemes, got a 46 percent hike in its allocation in the 2013-14 annual budget Thursday.
"We estimate that they will be able to spend Rs.55,000 crore ($10,258 million) before the end of the current year. I propose to allocate Rs.80,194 crore ($14,957 million) in 2013-14," Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in his budget speech.
The rural development ministry runs the government's flagship programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) and the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY).
Under revised estimates, the MGNREGS will get Rs.33,000 crore ($6,154 million) as compared to Rs.29,000 crore ($5,408 million) last year.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters here that the money allocated to the MGNEGS was based on the amount spent. "The government has to give the money under law, so if we need more money we will go to the finance minister again".
"Usually, the period between the months of January to June is a lean one for the rural job guarantee scheme," he said, adding if needed more money will be asked for in October.
The allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has dipped from Rs.24,000 crore to Rs.21,700 crore. "The reason for this is that we could spend only Rs.10,000 crore ($1,865 million)," the rural development minister said.
Ramesh attributed the less spending to the poor administrative back-up in states, and the complicated financial procedures involved that put a spanner in fast release of funds.
An extended scheme for the PMGSY was also announced, under which states which have fulfilled conditions of the programme will be given funds for upgradation work.
"Objectives of PMGSY have been substantially fulfilled in several states and these states wish to do more, and hence it is proposed to carve out PMGSY-II and allocate a portion of funds to the new programme," Chidambaram said.
The PMGSY-II will be extended to states like Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan.
While PMGSY-I will get Rs.16,000 crore for basic laying of roads, the rest of the fund will go to PMGSY-II.
Another flagship programme, the Indira Awas Yojna (IAY) has been allocated Rs.15,184 crore.
Ramesh said the ministry had been receiving feedback regarding difficulties in district-wise release of funds for the IAY from state officials.
"I have, therefore, written to chief ministers of certain states in order to enable smooth claims and timely release. We had earlier communicated our decision of allowing the state to have a separate bank account to receive the state and central allotments," he said.
The allocation for drinking water and sanitation will be Rs.15,260 crore.
The finance minister also proposed to provide Rs.1,400 crore towards setting up of water purification plants as there are still 2,000 arsenic- and 12,000 fluoride-affected rural habitations in the country.