Days after releasing a white paper that flagged Tamil Nadu’s alarming overall debt of Rs 5.70 lakh crore, state Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan Friday unveiled a budget with several generous announcements including one to reduce the effective rate of tax on petrol by Rs 3 per litre. The decision would result in a loss of revenue of Rs 1,160 crore a year, Thiaga Rajan said.
Thiaga Rajan said the state government will soon identify families eligible for this. The potential beneficiaries are not required to change the name of the head of the household in ration cards to avail the benefit.
There were also a number of “green announcements”.
The budget document promises a ‘Green Fund’ based on a green seigniorage cess to ensure that abandoned quarry sites are secured and restored, the ‘Singara Chennai 2.0’ plan, and a ‘Green Tamil Nadu Mission’ to increase the green cover in the state to 33% of its geographical area. The Finance Minister also set aside Rs 100 crore to help restore around 100 wetlands.
For rural areas, the budget document announced a guarantee of 25 crore man-days of MNREGA work and allocated Rs 3,800 crore for rural housing this year. The larger aim is to construct houses for eight lakh homeless families in the next five years, he said. He also allocated Rs 48.48 crore for upgrading Anganwadi centres. An underground sewage scheme has been announced for 27 towns with a population of more than Rs 1 lakh. Ten new arts and science colleges will be opened and Rs 5,369.09 crore has been allocated for higher education. The state has set aside Rs 100 crore for rejuvenating temple tanks and building new chariots and gardens for temples. The measures announced for state capital Chennai included the completion of Chennai Metro Rail Phase 2 by 2025, making it poster-free, and constructing three new flyovers. The main opposition, AIADMK, walked out from the Assembly during the presentation of the Budget to protest the DMK government’s “failure” to get the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test cancelled.