PATNA: Contrary to high expectations from the “double engine” NDA governments at the Centre and in state, no big-ticket announcement was made for Bihar in the general Budget for fiscal 2018-19 presented by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday. The state had to console itself with only a few “smaller” schemes of various central ministries.
Piped gas supply in Patna, two new rail lines (Biharsharif-Barbigha and Biharsharif-Daniawan), development of Indo-Nepal border road, setting up of a science city and funds for construction of new terminal building at Patna airport were some of the takeaways for the state from the Union Budget.
Experts said Bihar would also benefit from announcements like raising the minimum support price in agriculture sector up to 1.5 times of the input cost and expansion of free cooking gas programme to 8 crore poor families from 5 crore earlier. Nearly 65% of the population of Bihar lives below poverty line (BPL) and around 70% people are dependent on agriculture.
Nonetheless, the Budget has iterated the commitment of Narendra Modi government to commence supply of piped natural gas (PNG) in Bihar from Jagdishpur-Haldia/Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline of state- run Gail India Ltd in 2018.
The Budget provisions related to ministry of petroleum and natural gas include construction of gas trunk or main pipelines measuring 400 km connecting Patna, Varanasi, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Union minister of petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan had said on October 6 last year that work on 204km of main town gas supply network in Bihar under Gail’s Jagdishpur-Haldia pipeline would be completed by October this year.
In terms of railways, Budget provisions have been made for construction of Biharsharif-Barbigha (25.8km) and Biharsharif-Daniawan (38km) new rail lines out of 1,000km rail lines to be constructed across the country in 2018-19 utilising funds to the tune of Rs 28,490 crore.
In road sector, the Budget has talked about construction of 378.11km road along Indo- Nepal border. State road construction minister Nand Kishor Yadav told TOI that Bihar forms a major chunk of the Indo-Nepal border road. Union minister of road, transport and highways Nitin Gadkari had also said in Patna on Monday that National Highways Authority of India has been asked to prepare the detailed project report for construction of 512km of road along Indo-Nepal border under Bharatmala project.
Bihar figures in new science city scheme of ministry of culture as well. The Budget has also proposed development of consumer counselling centres in Bihar and several other states by ministry of consumer affairs. The state government has already started work on Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Science City project near Moinul Haque stadium in Patna utilising funds to the tune of Rs 397 crore.
Bihar is also likely to witness flow of funds from the Centre for developments in the aviation sector. The Union Budget has allocated significant funds for development of terminal at several full-fledged airports and revival of 50 airstrips under regional air- connectivity scheme. A sum of Rs 4,086 crore has been allocated for upgradation of facilities at various airports, including new terminal buildings and Rs 890 crore for revival of 50 airstrips under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme of ministry of civil aviation.
While work on construction of new terminal building at Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport, Patna, is slated to commence from April utilising funds to the tune of Rs 800 crore, IndiGo has been selected to operate flights from airbase of Indian Airforce at Darbhanga, where a new terminal is to be developed.
“The Budget, it seems, has been presented with an eye on upcoming elections. The government has announced several measures for agriculture sector, but they are not likely to double farmers’ income by 2022 as promised by the government earlier. Bihar seems to be almost out of the scope of this Budget as no big-ticket announcement, like special category status for the state, has been made. The small schemes covering Bihar are mere peanuts as compared to the expectations”
— Shaibal Gupta, member-secretary, Asian Development Research Institute, Patna
BUDGET TAKEAWAYS FOR BIHAR
Construction of 400km of gas trunk pipeline connecting Patna, Varanasi, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar
Biharsharif-Barbigha (25.8km) and Biharsharif-Daniawan (38km) new rail lines
New science centre/city
Consumer counselling centre
Rs 4,086 crore to be spent on upgradation of facilities at various airports, including construction of new terminal buildings
Revival of 50 airports or airstrips under regional air connectivity scheme