KOCHI: Education, production, infrastructure, health and welfare received priority in the Ernakulam district panchayat’s budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 presented on Wednesday. The surplus budget presented by panchayat vice-president Abdul Muthalib projects revenue receipts of Rs 204.72 crore and expenditure of Rs 203.96 crore, setting a surplus of Rs 75.95 lakh after adjusting the reserves.
If the conservation of water bodies received the highest allocation of Rs 82 crore in last year’s budget, digitalisation of schools under the district panchayat received the major allocation Rs 60 crore this year. However, the panchayat also allocated a major share for resolving the potable water issues.
For reviving of water bodies alone, Rs 6.75 crore has been set aside. Preparing a digital map for water sources also received due consideration with an allocation of Rs 10 lakh. The map will have the details of the location of water sources in the district which will help the local body while preparing projects in future. The budget set aside Rs 80 lakh for rainwater harvesting projects aimed at reducing the water scarcity.
In the education sector, a total of Rs 74.54 crore has been allocated, a major chunk of which is for digitalisation of schools. Muthalib said 14 schools will be digitalised, each of which will receive a minimum of Rs 5 crore.
Setting up of libraries, midday meals for schools in coastal areas, Spoken English project and anti-drugs campaign in schools are the major projects envisaged.
The fund allocation for public works was disappointing. Most of the projects mooted are aimed at improving the district panchayat headquarters. Renovation of Priyadarshini auditorium, installation of CCTV cameras, installation of solar panels and biogas treatment plant at the district panchayat are the major plans.
Though Rs 48.31 crore was allocated for annual maintenance of roads and bridges which have been transferred to the panchayat, most of the amount has been received as grant from the Central and state governments.
As always, the health sector witnessed ‘old wine in a new bottle.’ The projects for purchasing medicines, maintenance of hospitals, palliative care and e-waste are a repeat.
The budget has earmarked Rs 12.11 crore for social welfare, Rs 4.2 crore for women’s empowerment and Rs 15.67 crore for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. “The budget aims mainly at bringing about comprehensive development in all sectors. Though Rs 74.54 crore has been allocated to the education sector the remaining amount has been equally distributed to the other areas,” said Muthalib while concluding the budget speech.