Following the unveiling of the Union Budget 2024 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, it’s now the season for state budgets to take the spotlight. Leading the way is Gujarat, as it announces its budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 today. Gujarat’s Finance Minister, Kanu Desai, is taking the helm in presenting the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. He emphasized that this budget will not only delineate the state government’s vision for the year ahead but also serve as a roadmap for the next 25 years, setting the stage just before the budget presentation.

Finance Minister Kanu Desai proudly announced that Gujarat is experiencing a remarkable growth rate of 14.9 percent. In line with this robust economic performance, he presented a substantial budget of Rs 3 lakh 32 thousand 465 crore for the fiscal year 2024-25. This budget reflects the state’s commitment to further progress and development, ensuring a prosperous future for the people of Gujarat.

Three Key Women and Girl Child Development Initiatives:

The Gujarat government has launched several significant initiatives aimed at empowering women and advancing science education. Under the ‘Namo Lakshmi Yojana,’ a dedicated allocation of Rs 1,250 crore has been made to support the economic empowerment of women. This initiative is expected to positively impact the lives of 10 lakh female students, offering them opportunities for financial independence and growth.

Additionally, the ‘Namo Shree Yojana’ has allocated Rs 750 crore to provide essential support to pregnant and lactating mothers, ensuring their well-being during crucial phases. Furthermore, the ‘Namo Saraswati Yojana’ aims to promote science education among economically disadvantaged students. Eligible students pursuing science stream courses in higher secondary schools will receive financial assistance of Rs 10,000 in class 11 and Rs 15,000 in class 12. This visionary initiative anticipates a significant increase in science stream student enrollment, with the goal of expanding the annual intake from 2 lakh to 5 lakh students over the next five years. The estimated budget allocation for this program is approximately Rs 400 crore for the upcoming year, emphasizing the government’s commitment to fostering education and gender equality.

Eight Cities Attain Municipal Corporation Status:

The government has conferred Municipal Corporation status upon eight cities, marking a significant development in their administrative structure. These cities include Navsari, Gandhidham, Morbi, Vapi, Anand, Mehsana, Surendranagar, and Wadwan. This elevation in status signifies a strategic move towards enhancing urban governance and service delivery within these regions, aiming to facilitate better infrastructure development and municipal management.

Departmental Budgets:

I&B Department: Rs 384 crore PM Nutrition Scheme: Rs 1,400 crore
Home Department: Rs 10,378 crore Information and Broadcasting Department: Rs 384 crore
General Administration Department: Rs 2,239 crore Revenue Department: Rs 5,195 crore
Law Department: Rs 2,559 crore Climate Change Department: Rs 1,163 crore
Forest and Environment Department: Rs 2,586 crore Tourism Department: Rs 2,098 crore
Industries and Mines Department: Rs 9,220 crore Agriculture, Farmers, and Cooperation Department: Rs 22,196 crore
Science and Technology Department: Rs 2,421 crore Water Supply: Rs 6,242 crore
Water Resources Department: Rs 11,535 crore Ports and Weight Management: Rs 3,858 crore
Road and Building Department: Rs 22,163 crore Energy and Petrochemicals: Rs 8,423 crore
Urban Housing Department: Rs 21,696 crore Panchayat Village Housing and Village Development Department: Rs 12,138 crore
Sports, Youth, and Cultural Activities: Rs 767 crore Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department: Rs 2,711 crore
Women and Child Development Department: Rs 6,885 crore Health and Family Welfare: Rs 20,100 crore
Labor Skill Development and Employment: Rs 2,659 crore Tribal Development: Rs 4,374 crore
Social Justice and Empowerment: Rs 6,193 crore

Economic Assistance Initiatives:

  • Department of Social Justice and Empowerment: An allocation of Rs 6193 crore for this department.
  • Annual Pension Support: Rs 1398 crore allocated to provide annual pensions to 11 lakh beneficiaries through the Economic Assistance Scheme.
  • Monthly Assistance for Destitute Children: A budget of Rs 74 crore set aside for offering monthly financial aid to destitute children, facilitated by the Foster Parents Scheme.
  • Inter-Caste Marriage Assistance: An allocation of Rs 20 crore designated for the Inter-Caste Marriage Assistance Scheme.

Enhancing Education Assistance:

  • PM Yashaswi Scholarship Scheme: Rs 504 crore allocated to extend financial support to 10 lakh students.
  • Scholarships for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Students: A budget of Rs 360 crore dedicated to scholarships benefiting 40 lakh Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students.
  • Support for Scheduled Caste Hostels and Ashramshalas: Rs 335 crore allotted to assist one lakh students residing in Scheduled Caste hostels and ashramshalas.
  • Empowering Girls through Saraswati Sadhana Yojana: An allocation of Rs 84 crore for the provision of free bicycles to 1.5 lakh girls under the Saraswati Sadhana Yojana.
  • Educational Loans for Non-Reserved Classes: A substantial Rs 600 crore reserved for providing educational loans to non-reserved classes, promoting equal access to education.

Education Development Initiatives:

  • Budget Allocation for Education Department: A substantial Rs 55,114 crore has been allocated to the education department in the budget.
  • Enhancing Primary School Infrastructure: Efforts are underway to prepare 15,000 new rooms in primary schools across the state.
  • Smart Classrooms Advancement: The construction of 45,000 new smart classrooms is in progress, fostering interactive learning environments.
  • Digital Empowerment: 2 lakh computers will be provided to 15,000 schools, enabling digital education access.
  • Expanding Secondary Education: A plan to open 162 new government secondary schools to cater to the growing student population.
  • Promoting Science Education: Rs 250 crore earmarked for the Namo Saraswati Yojana, encouraging students to pursue science education.
  • Mission School of Excellence: A dedicated budget of Rs 3,000 crore allocated for the Mission School of Excellence, emphasizing quality education.
  • Transport Assistance for Students: Rs 260 crore set aside to provide transport assistance to 1 lakh students in classes 9 to 12, ensuring access to education.

Advancing Anganwadis:

  • Expanding Anganwadis: The Gujarat government has plans to establish 8,000 new anganwadis, increasing access to vital childcare and early education services.
  • Smart Anganwadis: A visionary initiative aims to transform 20,000 anganwadis into smart facilities, incorporating technology and innovation to enhance their educational impact.
  • Budget Allocation: A substantial budget of Rs 55,114 crore has been allocated to support these developmental efforts in the anganwadi sector.

Enhancing Healthcare:

  • Strengthening Ambulance Services: Allocation of Rs 76 crore to acquire 319 new ambulances, bolstering healthcare accessibility.
  • Advanced Hospitals in Ahmedabad and Surat: Plans include the construction of advanced 300-bed hospitals in Ahmedabad and Surat, enhancing medical facilities.
  • Expanded Hospital Facilities: The establishment of new hospitals near Bavla in Ahmedabad and Kamrej in Surat, expanding healthcare infrastructure for improved patient care.

Nirmal Gujarat 2.0 Scheme Unveiled:

  • Budget Allocation: A significant Rs 2,500 crore earmarked for the Nirmal Gujarat 2.0 scheme, emphasizing cleanliness and environmental sustainability.
  • Historical Context: The Finance Minister underscored the historical significance by recalling that PM Narendra Modi initiated the Nirmal Gujarat Yojana in 2007. Coinciding with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the nationwide Swachh Bharat campaign was launched. The government’s responsibility is to instill cleanliness as a fundamental mantra in every home, village, and city.
  • Accelerating Cleanliness: To intensify this commitment, the Finance Minister announced the Nirmal Gujarat 2.0 Abhiyan. This comprehensive campaign will employ various schemes to efficiently collect and dispose of solid and liquid waste in an environmentally responsible manner. The implementation will involve public participation, and to support this initiative, the budget has been increased from Rs 1300 crore to Rs 2500 crore for the next year.

Modernizing Fish Production Centers:

  • Investing in Modernization: A substantial budget of Rs 627 crore has been allocated for the comprehensive modernization of fish production centers, aiming to enhance efficiency and productivity.
  • Supporting Farmers: Farmers will receive relaxation in high-speed diesel tax, alleviating operational costs and promoting sustainable farming practices.
  • Fishermen’s Welfare: A significant allocation of Rs 463 crore has been set aside for providing relief to fishermen, recognizing their vital role in the fishing industry.
  • Fostering Fisheries: Rs 134 crore has been provisioned for the development of the fisheries industry, with an emphasis on growth and sustainability.

Development of Gandhinagar Gift City Area:

  • Expanding Green City: Gift City’s development as a Green City is expanded significantly, with its area extended from 900 to 3300 acres.
  • Integrated City Planning: A holistic “Walk to Work, Live and Play” concept is being introduced in the city, along with the creation of a 4.5 km long riverfront and a dedicated recreation zone.
  • Enhanced Infrastructure: Gift City is poised to have metro connectivity and Central Park facilities, augmenting its livability and convenience.
  • Fostering Fin-Tech: A noteworthy Rs 52 crore allocation has been made to establish ‘Fin-Tech’ capabilities within Gift City.
  • Riverfront Development: A substantial Rs 100 crore is designated for riverfront development initiatives, enhancing the aesthetics and functionality of this thriving area.

Enhancing Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Connectivity:

  • Metro Expansion: The Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar metro route is set to be extended, connecting to Ahmedabad International Airport and the inner areas of Gift City, facilitating convenient transportation.
  • Improved Bus Services: New bus services are on the horizon, further enhancing connectivity in the region.
  • Modernized Bus Stations: Bus stations will undergo a transformation with the addition of 2000 new buses within the next year, elevating the quality of public transportation services.

In conclusion, Gujarat’s budget for 2024-25 reflects a comprehensive vision that focuses on economic growth, women empowerment, education, and infrastructure development. With a strong commitment to good governance and sustainable development, the state aims to continue its journey of progress and prosperity for the benefit of its citizens.