State Congress says ‘needs’ of youth and Covid warriors neglected
Reacting expectedly along party lines to the Union budget, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has termed the allocation of Rs 14,778 crore for the Bengaluru Metro announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union budget for 2021-2022 the ‘biggest gift’ to Karnataka. On the other hand, the opposition Congress said the state’s requirements had been largely unmet.
In a statement on Monday, the CM said, “An amount of Rs 14,778 crore has been announced for the Bengaluru Metro project, and 58 km of new routes can be constructed due to this provision. This is the biggest gift to Karnataka from our own Finance Minister.”
During her budget speech in the Parliament, Ms Sitharaman said Central funding would be provided for phases 2A and 2B of the Metro project. Phase 2A comprises an 18.23-km elevated corridor connecting KR Puram to the Central Silk Board via the Outer Ring Road (ORR), while in Phase 2B KR Puram will be linked to Bengaluru airport via a 37-km-long 37 km. Phase 2A and 2B will provide faster, hassle-free commutes to techies and flyers respectively.
In December last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $500 million (Rs 3,685 crore) loan for Phase 2A and 2B.
Furthermore, the FM said construction on the 278-km Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway 2 project would start in 2021-22.
CM’s fulsome praise
Heaping praise on the budget as a ‘catalyst’ and ‘speed booster’ to revive the country’s Covid-hit economy, the CM further called it ‘pro-poor’ and ‘pro-middle class’, adding that the FM had announced various strategies for economic revival as well as containment of the pandemic.
Yediyurappa welcomed the Central outlay of Rs 35,000 crore for countrywide vaccination against Covid-19 and noted that the budget had provisions for boosting agriculture, skill development and infrastructure and industrial development. He noted that the budget provided for doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and Rs 16.50 lakh crore had been allocated for agriculture and rural development.
The budget had also provided for strengthening and continuation of MSP, improving iinfrastructure in APMCs, doubling grants for micro irrigation and value addition programmes for 22 crops, the CM said. He noted that the tax holiday on construction of affordable houses would be a boon to the middle class.
Yediyurappa welcomed both the Rs 1.10 lakh crore outlay under the National Railway Project, and the allocation of Rs 1.07 lakh crore for capital expenditure. He noted that new programmes for 13 sectors would realise the Prime Minister’s dream of an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. He also welcomed the budgetary announcement exempting senior citizens above 75 years from filing income tax returns.
Cong’s thumbs down
However, the opposition Congress sang a different tune, with KPCC president DK Shivakumar saying Karnataka had been ‘largely deprived’. According to him, the budget failed to address the ‘needs’ of the youth and Covid warriors of the state.