87% more funds to tackle urban poverty
President Pratibha Patils target of making India slum-free in five years got a boost in Mondays budget when the finance minister increased the allocation for the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission by 87 per cent to Rs 12,887 crore.
A chunk of this money would go for providing houses and infrastructure to the urban poor under the Rajiv Awaas Yojana, a scheme yet to be launched.
The new plan, which comes under the urban renewal mission, has got an allocation of Rs 3,973 crore. The yojana already has an initial budget of Rs 5,000 crore. It is likely to be launched on August 20, the birth anniversary of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The money, sources in the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation said, would go a long way in fulfilling the targets set by minister Kumari Selja for the first 100 days that of improving 1,000 slum areas, constructing 10 lakh houses and a biometric survey of slums. The budget has kept the focus on housing for the urban poor, what else would we want. With this kind of allocation, we will be able to meet our aims, said an official in the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation. The allocation for the urban renewal mission also includes allocations for two flagship components for infrastructure facilities in cities and towns.
The Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns will get Rs 3073.56 crore and the Urban Infrastructure and Governance component will get Rs 5117.26 crore.
Space budget shoots up
The government has increased the outlay for the space department by 42 per cent over last year, with a five-fold rise in funding for preliminary studies on technologies aimed at mastering human space flight.
The budget outlay for the Department of Space in 2009-10 will be Rs 4,959 crore. The department spent Rs 3,499 crore last year.
Three projects account for the highest increases an effort to bolster domestic industrys capacity to deliver materials and components for the space programme, studies on a semi-cryogenic engine for low-cost access to space and studies on human space flight technologies.
The budget outlay for studies on detailed designs of a space capsule, life support systems and techniques to improve reliability and safety will rise to Rs 230 crore in 2009-10 from Rs 42 crore last year.
Isro has submitted a project proposal to the government that envisions the development of the space capsule that can ferry two astronauts to an altitude of about 400km and return. An effort to develop a semi-cryogenic engine which uses liquid oxygen and space-grade kerosene as fuel will also receive a major impetus with outlay rising from Rs 4 crore last year to Rs 155 crore in 2009-10.
The semi-cryogenic engine is intended to be an inexpensive alternative to the fully cryogenic engine which uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, Isro sources said. A semi-cryogenic engine is expected to reduce the cost of satellite launches.
An initiative to indigenise technologies by helping industry develop electronic components and materials used in space programmes and to procure critical items for future space missions will get Rs 213 crore in 2009-10, in contrast to Rs 23 crore last year.
Money power for women
The finance minister has indicated that the UPA will focus on self-help groups as a vehicle for the empowerment of women, promising more funds and setting new targets for female literacy and the expansion of such groups.
The corpus of the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh used to promote and fund self-help groups will be raised from Rs 100 crore to Rs 500 crore over a few years, Pranab Mukherjee said.
Our objective is to enrol at least 50 per cent of all rural women in India as members of self-help groups over the next five years and link these to banks, Mukherjee said in his budget speech.
The President, in her joint address to Parliament on June 4, had announced plans to recast the National Literacy Mission Indias apex adult literacy programme as the National Mission for Female Literacy.
In her address, she had said the female literacy mission would aim to make every Indian woman literate in five years.
The finance minister, while also speaking of the new mission, recast its target the mission will now strive to reduce present female illiteracy by half by 2012.
Mixed bag for health
The budget for the health sector has proposed a 16 per cent rise in funds for the National Rural Health Mission and a 53 per cent increase in the outlay for new initiatives in traditional medicine, including the creation of a folk medicine centre in Arunachal Pradesh.
The outlay for the Department of Health and Family Welfare has gone up 22 per cent to Rs 21,113 crore from Rs 17,307 crore last year.
But cancer research and the National AIDS Control Programme have been struck by dips in funding. Government spending on cancer research will drop from Rs 112 crore last year to Rs 86 crore this year. The funding for the AIDS control programme will reduce from Rs 1,016 crore to Rs 973 crore.