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With the much-awaited announcement in the Tamil Nadu Budget on giving women heads of households Rs.1,000 per month from September 15 this year, Finance Minister PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan met one of the key promises of the DMK in the 2021 Assembly election and raised the bar for election promises in other States.

The outlay for the keenly watched poll promise for the year is Rs.7,000 crore, and there will be conditionalities for women to qualify for the assistance, apparently dealing with economic and social status. The Minister repeatedly invoked the Dravidian Model as the distinguishing feature of the State Budget.

In a big move to align real estate markets with actual prices, guideline value for land in the State which had been slashed 13% as of June 9, 2017, stood restored to previous levels, while the Registration Fee was reduced to 2% from 4%.

The Finance Minister squarely pointed to iniquitous allocation of Railway services for Tamil Nadu, and promised to set up a joint mechanism through TIDCO to address this deficit. At the policy level, Tamil Nadu would work to get over 50% of its power generated from renewable sources by 2030, towards which the Kundah 500 MW hydel project would come on stream by 2024-25.

In line with the State’s emphasis on climate change adaptation, the State government proposes to protect the shoreline and coastal-marine biodiversity with a Neithal Conservation Programme worth Rs.2,000 crore.

One lakh new beneficiaries to get old age pension and school breakfasts to cover all primary schools in Tamil Nadu, benefiting 18 lakh students.

In further welfarist announcements, Mr. Thiagarajan said one lakh new beneficiaries would get old age pension in the State, and the school breakfast programme would be expanded to cover all primary schools in Tamil Nadu at a cost of Rs.500 crore, benefiting 18 lakh students. The breakfast scheme has shown early results of higher attendance at schools.

Firm outlays
TN Budget, which was keenly followed in the Assembly by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, also made financial allocations during the year for such diverse aspects as upgrading village roads to cover 5,145 km (Rs.2,000 crore), a model industry scheme named after Dr. Ambedkar (Rs.1,000 crore), commercial upgradation of three bus termini in Chennai (Rs.1,600 crore), acquisition of 1,000 new buses and refurbishing 500 old ones (Rs.500 crore) and new buildings and laboratories for schools under a scheme named after Prof. Anbazhagan (Rs.1,500 crore).

Besides these allocations, policy announcements dealt with skill-building for youth, urbanisation including Metro Rail projects for Coimbatore and Madurai, restoration and rejuvenation of 10,000 village lakes and ponds, operationalisation of the next phase of the Hogenakkal Integrated Water Supply Project and setting up of a museum in Thanjavur to celebrate the grand achievements of the Cholas.

Also Read: Will TN Budget be a banger, or squib of Centre’s neglect?

Creating a new 80,567-hectare Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Erode district, the 18th in Tamil Nadu, and a migratory birds centre at Marakkanam, the latter getting a Rs.25 crore allocation this year, are other highlights.

Many of the Budget plans outlined by the Finance Minister strongly focus on physical infrastructure, one of which is construction of new hostels for SC/ST students in Madurai, Coimbatore, Tiruchi and the Nilgiris, at a cost of Rs.100 crore.

Island Grounds, a popular venue for public events in Chennai, is to be upgraded to have a public square, exhibition halls and an open air theatre, spread across 30 acres.

North Chennai in focus
As one of India’s highly urbanised States, the Tamil Nadu government continues to focus on Chennai as an international city, as well as tier 2 cities Coimbatore and Madurai. In Chennai, the northern half of the city, generally considered neglected, is to be upgraded through an ambitious Rs.1,000 crore special programme.

Another proposal is to have a four-lane flyover from Teynampet to Saidapet at Rs.621 crore, straddling the existing and expensive underground Metro rail line operating along the same corridor.

54 government polytechnics are to be upgraded at Rs. 2,783 crore in a focus on youth skill building

The proposed Coimbatore Metro project will cover the Avinashi Road and Sathy Road stretches at an estimated Rs.9,000 crore, while the Madurai Metro is to cover Thirumangalam and Othakadai at a cost of Rs.8,500 crore.

Thiagarajan devoted time to cover the flood crisis mitigation in and around Chennai, declaring that Rs.434 crore worth of storm drain work was in the final stages. Again, utilising Transport Department land assets, bus termini in Vadapalani, Thiruvanmiyur and Vyasarpadi are to be commercialised.

There is also a focus on youth skill building, and 54 government polytechnics are to be upgraded at Rs. 2,783 crore.

Also Read: Will TN budget offer more than vague promises to Dalits?

The upcoming 1,000-bed hospital at the King Institute is to be opened in the current year, while Coimbatore is to have a Semmozhi Poonga at Rs.172 crore, and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s works are to be translated into Tamil at Rs.5 crore. Salem is also covered in the Budget with a plan for a textile park on 119 acres valued at Rs.880 crore.

As a measure of transparency-building, Police will acquire CCTV cameras for their stations at Rs.38.25 crore.

Families of security services personnel who lose their lives in the line of duty will be given a solatium of Rs.40 lakh, double what is sanctioned at present.

Pension for persons with disability will be raised to Rs.1,500 from Rs.1,000, and for those with severe disability, to Rs.2,000.

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