Chhattisgarh police to get more money to fight Maoists

Raipur, Feb 22 (IANS) The Chhattisgarh government Monday decided to give more money to its police to tackle Maoist insurgency and said more police stations would be set in extremist pockets.

Presenting a Rs.24,685.43-crore annual outlay in the assembly, Chief Minister Raman Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, said: ‘Chhattisgarh is committed to combat Maoist violence and the police budget has been increased to Rs.1,140.15 crore from Rs.977.20 crore, an exactly 16.68 percent hike compared to 2009-10.’

‘The basic intent for increasing budget for the police department is to strongly combat Maoist violence,’ Singh told reporters after presenting the budget amid repeated interruptions by the opposition Congress members.

He announced that the government would focus on setting up new police stations and upgrading those existing in insurgency-ridden pockets.

Singh announced in his budget that kerosene stove, fried and roasted grams would be now tax-free while fly-ash bricks have been exempted from entry tax to encourage usage of these bricks. Value Added Tax (VAT) on cooked food items has been reduced to 5 percent from 14 percent.

He also announced that ‘to encourage the cinema industry in the interest of the public, cinema tickets up to Rs.50 would be exempted from entertainment tax’.

With an estimated growth of 12 percent in tax and 26 percent in non-tax revenue, the Rs.859.78 crore revenue-surplus budget was presented by the Bharatiya Janata Party government that is ruling the state since December 2003.

The net budget deficit stands at Rs.549.18 crore and, taking into account the cumulative deficit, the budget deficit is estimated at Rs.1,031.55 crore.

Giving a special thrust to education, health, food security and availability of pure drinking water in the budget 2010-11, the BJP government has earmarked about 46 percent of the state’s total expenditure for the social sector.

‘The social sector would help the state achieve the key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) concerning reduction of poverty and malnutrition,’ the chief minister remarked in his budget speech.

Besides providing Rs.3,922.52 crore for the education sector, which is 15 percent of the total budget outlay, the state government has allocated 4 percent of the total expenditure for health, 8.5 percent for food security, 8.6 percent for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes welfare and 3.2 percent for women and child welfare.

The budgetary allocations for health sector has been put at Rs. 943.90 crore, a 7.76 percent increase of Rs. 875.93 crore annual fixed in 2009-10.

“To overcome the infrastructural gaps in health sector, government will construct five community health centres, 57 primary health centres and 100 sub-health centres costing Rs. 30 crore. Nursing schools to be set up at Rajnandgaon, Raigarh, Korba and Ambikapur during 2010-11 while `On Call’ ambulance facility is being introduced at cities,” the chief minister announced in his budget speech.

The Congress party has termed the budget ‘disappointing’.

“It’s a highly disappointing, anti-poor and anti-farmer budget, no tax relief has been given to common people, the Chief Minster is taking the state towards a financial crisis. Tax collection is also going down annually during the BJP regime,” Ramesh Varlyani, Congress state general secretary, told IANS.

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