Transport and Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari welcomed the Union budget as forward looking and expressed his satisfaction in the allocation of funds to the Ministry of Road Transport, Highways & Shipping as well as the Ministry of Rural Development. Briefing the media, Shri Gadkari said that the budget will give a fillip to the infrastructure development in the country.India has emerged as one of the largest PPP markets in the world with over 900 projects in various stages of development. In order to streamline PPP framework, an institution called `3P India` with a corpus of Rs 500 crores has been proposed. Furthermore, proposals worth Rs 37,880 crores have been made in the budget, to be invested in National Highways development as well as that of the state roads. This includes Rs 3000 crores for the North eastern region. In the Ports Sector, 16 new projects are proposed with a focus on connectivity. Special Economic Zones will be developed in Kandla port and the JNPT Mumbai. The budget has indicated that Inland water Navigation will be of high priority for the government. A project named `Jal Marg Vikas` will be implemented in the river Ganga between Allahabad and Haldia over a stretch of 1620 km. This will enable commercial navigation of vessels having the capacity of up to 1500 tonnes. The project will be completed over a period of six years at an estimated cost of Rs 4200 crores.
Nitin Gadkari further hailed several budget proposals which will accelerate the integrated development of rural areas. An important initiative in the budget, `Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission` will provide, preferably through PPP mode, better civic infrastructure and associated services for the people living in rural areas. This will include development of economic activities and skill development. In power sector, `Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana` will be launched to augment power supply in the rural areas and strengthen transmission and distribution systems. A sum of Rs 500 crores has been proposed for this initiative. PMGSY has been provided with a sum of Rs 14,389 crores.
Under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Self Help Groups (SHG) run by women are provided credit at a low interest of 4% upon prompt repayment in 150 districts. The budget has extended this scheme to another 100 districts. All other districts will continue to avail credit at 7% interest rate. In order to encourage the rural entrepreneurship, `Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme’ is proposed with an outlay of Rs 100 crores. Watershed development will be given further impetus through a new initiative called `Neeranchal` with an initial outlay of Rs 2142 crores in this financial year. The Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) will be restructured to address intra district inequalities. Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan has been proposed in the budget to achieve total sanitation by the year 2019. Also, the government has proposed to earmark Rs 3600 crores for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme. This will benefit approximately 20000 habitations affected by water contamination due to arsenic, fluoride, pesticides, fertilisers and other toxic elements. Community water purification plants will be installed in the next three years in those habitations. Gadkari said that all these measures show the government`s commitment towards the holistic development of the country.