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What’s for Sikkim and North East in the Union Budget 2022-23

“Union Budget 2022 is a blueprint of Indian economy for the next 25 years” said Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, as she presented the Union Budget for 2022-23 on February 1, 2022. “This Union Budget seeks to lay the foundation and give a blueprint of the economy over ‘Amrit Kal’ of next 25 years-from India at 75 to India at 100”, added the Finance Minister. Through the Budget, the government proposed various infrastructural and developmental projects aimed to strengthen and revive the pandemic-ridden country. “We are in the midst of the Omicron wave; the speed of our vaccination campaign has helped greatly. I am confident that through ‘Sabka Prayaas’, we will continue with strong growth” said the Finance Minister.

With the expectation of the country’s economic growth to be at 9.2% in the current financial year, the Finance Minister said that the virtuous cycle of investment is expected to revive on account of capital expenditure and crowd in private Investment.

As against the total expenditure of Rs 34.83 lakh crore projected in the Budget Estimate 2021-22, the revised estimate of Rs 37.70 lakh crore was proposed in the Budget along with the estimate of capital expenditure of Rs 6.03 lakh crore which includes an amount of Rs 51,971 crore towards settlement of outstanding guaranteed liabilities of Air India and its other sundry commitments. The Budget also estimated the total expenditure in 2022-23 to be at Rs 39.45 lakh crore, while the total receipts other than burrowing are estimated at Rs 22.84 lakh crore.

Through her Budget speech the government proposed the expansion of the highways in the country by 25,000 kilometers, allocation of Rs 60,000 crores to the Nal Se Jal scheme with the aim to cover 3.8 crore households in 2022-2023, five river link projects across various states, allocation of Rs 48,000 crores for the Prime Minister Awas Yojana and many more.  

A new scheme was announced in the Union Budget namely the Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North East Region (PM-DevINE) which is proposed to be implemented through the North-Eastern Council which consists of eight states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. The scheme will fund infrastructure, in the spirit of PM GatiShakti, and social development projects based on felt needs of the North-East and is said that this will enable livelihood activities for youth and women, filling the gaps in various sectors. However, the scheme will not be a substitute for existing central or state schemes and while the central ministries may also pose their candidate projects, it was said that the priority will be given to those posed by the states. An initial allocation of Rs 1,500 crores is also proposed in the Union Budget for initial list of various projects. 

Various projects are listed in the initial list of projects for the North East region under the scheme PM-DevINE.

For the state of Sikkim, project worth Rs 64 crore is included in the list as a gap funding for Passenger Ropeway system for Pelling to Sanga-Choeling in West Sikkim. Another project worth Rs 58 crore is included in the list as a gap funding for Eco-friendly Ropeway (Cable Car) from Dhapper to Bhaleydhunga in South Sikkim.

Other lists of projects under the PM-DevINE scheme for the North East Region includes the project worth Rs 129 crore for the establishment of Dedicated Services for the Management of Paediatric and Adult Haemotolymphoid Cancers in North East India, Guwahati (Multi-State), a project worth Rs 67 crore for the NECTAR Livelihood Improvement Project (Multi-State), a project worth Rs 45 crore for promoting Scientific Organic Agriculture in North East India (Multi-State), a project worth Rs 500 crore for the construction of Aizawl Bypass on western side, a project worth Rs 100 crore for the pilot project for construction of Bamboo Link Road at different locations in various districts in the state of Mizoram while other projects worth Rs 537 crore are yet to be identified.

Once again, the Union Budget has excluded Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh from the World Bank funded project for Power System Improvement in the North East Region. According to the Budget document’s explanatory note, “the project is for power system improvement in six North East Region states, viz. Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Nagaland. It is funded by the World Bank. Intra-State Transmission and Distribution projects for Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh have been segregated for implementation through budgetary support from Government of India in view of these states having sensitive borders.”

Speaking with Sikkim Chronicle, Passang Sherpa Social and Political Activist on the union Budget said that “This is a very important Budget presented in the time when we are getting out of the pandemic and will pave the way to lead the economy of the country for India. I am happy as this wasn’t any general budget and is different from the others budgets presented in the past.” “However, the Budget had a little setback to the tax paying citizens as there were no tax rebates in the Budget this time but as far as a country is concerned this Union Budget 2022-23 can be considered as a ‘Futuristic Budget’ for the country.” said Sherpa.

“Chemical free natural farming has also been issued in this upcoming union budget, this is a major thing for the state like Sikkim because, our State has been maintaining Organic Farming from the past few years and was also declared as the first Organic state of India, so if we continue to work on the Organic mission than we are already ahead of  most of the States. Therefore, if we can find the way out and negotiate with the central government than those people of Sikkim who are protected under the article of 371F, there’s a chance to get certain benefits from the government.” Sherpa concluded

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