Guwahati (Assam) [India], February 12 (ANI): Assam Finance Minister Ajanta Neog presented the annual state budget for the financial year 2024-25 worth Rs 2.9 lakh crore in the Assam Legislative Assembly on Monday.

Ajanta Neog had presented a Rs 774.47 crore deficit state budget for 2024-25 in the assembly.

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Presenting the state budget on the floor, Minister Neog said, "The budget estimates of 2024-25 show a receipt of Rs 1,43,605.56 crore under the consolidated fund of the State. Out of this, Rs 1,11,943.84 crore is in the revenue account and the remaining Rs 31,661.73 crore is under the capital account."

"After adding the receipts of Rs 1,44,550.08 crore under the public account and Rs 2,000.00 crore under the contingency fund, the aggregate receipts amount to Rs 2,90,155.65 crore. As against this, total expenditure from the consolidated fund of the state in 2024-25 is estimated at Rs 1,43,890.62 crore of which Rs 1,10,091.86 crore is in the revenue account and Rs 33,798.76 crore is in the capital account," she said.

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"Taking into account the expenditure of Rs 1,42,670.09 crore under the public account and Rs 2,000.00 crore under the contingency fund, the aggregate expenditure for the year is estimated at Rs 2,88,560.71 crore. Thus, estimated transactions during the year will result in an estimated surplus of Rs 1,594.94 crore. This, together with the opening deficit of Rs 2,369.41 crore, will lead to a budget deficit of Rs 774.47 crore at the end of the financial year 2024-25," the minister added.

In her fourth budget speech, the Assam Finance Minister said, "Assam is actively pursuing significant investments aligned with the Government of India's vision, including Viksit Bharat @ 2047, Atmanirbhar Bharat, and Make in India. We will organize a Global Investors' Summit in November 2024 in Assam which will witness the participation of major global and Indian industrial houses, stimulate investment in Assam, and create more jobs. I propose to allocate Rs. 25 crore for this purpose."

"Our Government would reserve 10 per cent of the posts in Assam Police for eligible Agniveers. However, this applies for local candidates only. To boost milk production, Rs. 25 crore would be provided towards milk subsidy as a direct support to dairy farmers. This will be in addition to Rs. 10 crore provided for infusing equity in North East Dairy and Foods Ltd (NEDFL). To attain self-sufficiency in egg production, our Government would be focusing on layer farming. We have already undertaken distribution of low input technology birds among traditional backyard farmers. We shall provide appropriate incentives. I earmark Rs. 25 crore for this purpose," the Minister outlined.

"We will boost fish production by leveraging Central schemes and EAPs. We will provide incentives for various initiatives to small tea growers in the State and support the modernization of tea processing facilities and training of the tea sector in new technologies. I earmark an amount of Rs. 15 crore for the promotion of small tea growers. Our Government will continue to support the Start-up Venture Fund for Assam in this financial year also. I am earmarking an amount of Rs. 18 crore for the same. In addition, two new Startup Incubation hubs will be established at Assam Engineering College, Guwahati ,and Jorhat Engineering College, Jorhat with an allocated fund of Rs. 5 crore. In orfirst-of-its-kindder to make our weavers self-reliant and for their upliftment, we will distribute 1000 looms (Moina Xaal) in financial year 2024-25 and I earmark Rs. 14 crore for this purpose. In a first of its kind initiative in the entire nation, I propose Gyan Dhara project to provide experiential learning for students across the State through VR-based, curriculum-aligned content that is both immersive and interactive. This project will initially be rolled out in Adarsh Vidyalayas in phases in collaboration with IIT Guwahati. I allocate an amount of Rs. 5 crore for this purpose," Ajanta Neog said.

She further said that, the government has also prioritized the establishment of the Institute of Wildlife Health and Research at Dinjan, Dibrugarh, Barak Valley Wildlife Safari and Rescue Centre at Dholai, Cachar and the renovation and modernization of the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati.

"The government aims to expand the Amrit Brikshya Andolan by planting three crore seedlings across the state in 2024-25. Modernization of the Assam State Zoo, a Species Recovery Programme to protect highly endangered wildlife species, such as the White-winged Wood Duck, Hoolock Gibbon, and endemic flora like Hollong and development of a Natural History Museum and Animal Rescue Center at Borjuli, Panbari, in Golaghat District shall be the priorities in this year. I hereby propose to allocate Rs. 1207.25 crore to this department," Ajanta Neog said.

"In the previous year, Assam Police gained momentous achievements in its multifaceted activities including anti-insurgency operations and witnessing the surrender of over 1200 militants. Stringent crackdown on narcotics and drugs, resulting in the recovery of more than 160 kg of Heroin, 31,000 kg of Ganja, and other substances, totaling contraband worth more than Rs. 1800 crore between May 2021, and January 2024. The overall law-and-order situation in Assam improved, evidenced by a reduction in crimes from about 1,00,000 in 2021 to about 63,000 in 2023, coupled with an increase in the conviction rate from 6 per cent to 16 per cent. Moreover, Assam Police played a pivotal role in promoting a peaceful dialogue by signing historic accords with militant groups, including the United Liberation Front of Assam in December 2023.

"The withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from major parts of Assam marked a phased transition, symbolizing the improved security scenario and the end of decades of hostility and militancy. Assam Police is committed to combat child marriage, a severe violation of human rights. Special drives have been initiated under relevant laws, resulting in the registration of more than 5000 cases and the arrest of over 4,000 individuals. The historic recruitment of 14,643 police personnel reflects our commitment to bolstering the police force and ensuring public safety. Looking forward, Assam Police's focus remains on the rehabilitation of over 7000 cadres surrendered militants from different extremist organizations already reintegrated into society. Assam Police is actively engaged in housing schemes for its Police personnel, jail modernization, and forensic science initiatives to enhance the overall criminal justice system in the state. I hereby propose to allocate Rs. 8143.96 crore to this department," Ajanta Neog said.

She also said that "the focus for financial year 2024-25 includes the full implementation of e-Stamp, where the government transitioned to 100% e-Stamp, replacing physical Non-Judicial Stamp Papers. Land has been allotted for various vital institutions, including the National Forensic Science University, Assam, ICAI, Judges Guest House at Kaziranga, and others. Amendments to Rule-26 of the ALRR, 1886, were made, rendering settlement holders ineligible for further settlement of government lands in cases of transfer within 15 years from the date of settlement. I hereby propose to allocate Rs. 2678.67 crore to Revenue and Disaster Management Department."

"The cabinet's approval for the Socio-Economic Assessment of indigenous Assamese Muslims, entrusted to the newly named Directorate of Minority Affairs and Char Areas. Further, the identification and development of specific indigenous Assamese Muslim communities, including Goriya, Moriya, Deshi, Jolha, and Syed, received cabinet approval. This initiative encompasses within itself diverse areas such as health care, financial inclusion, education, population stabilization, skill development, women empowerment, and cultural preservation, as indicated in the issued notification. Infrastructure projects, including 15 Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) and 46 Sadbhav Mandaps, showcased tangible progress, with 9 ITIs and 15 Sadbhav Mandaps already completed and operational. Schemes for welfare of Minorities will continue this year too and I hereby propose to allocate Rs. 91.67 crore to this department," Ajanta Neog said.

The Assam Finance Minister also said in the state budget,"Government will attempt to provide Orunodoi Poriyal saturation under National Food Security Act (NFSA) by integrating the ration cards with Orunodoi on pilot basis in the districts of Charaideo and Biswanath. In order to ensure Ease of living for these needy, the Government will consider providing Orunodoi Beneficiaries insurance coverage under two schemes: Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY). I am earmarking Rs. 3800 crore for this scheme in this budget."

"Under Mukhya Mantri Nijut Moina (MMNM), 10 lakh girls (one million- Nijut Moina) will be supported with financial grants as admission incentives to continue their education to higher secondary, graduation and post-graduation studies. This is to bolster the Government's Mission to eliminate child marriages. Apart from punitive and regulatory measures, we need to empower the girl child to decide about when to marry. If ten lakh girl children are encouraged to study till graduation and post-graduation, this would also increase the percentage of girls educated beyond Matriculation. They will be eligible for this benefit only if they study in any government college/education institution. Secondly, the girls married are not eligible for this benefit. An admission incentive of Rs.10,000 will be paid to each of the girl student who joins in Class Eleven. Similarly, Rs. 12,500 will be paid to those girls who join graduation first year. For a girl student who joins in the first year of postgraduation course shall get an admission incentive of Rs. 15,000. This is in addition to the existing benefits like free admission, provision of scooty, etc as applicable. I propose to set apart Rs. 240 crore towards this scheme in this budget," Neog said.

"Mukhya Mantri Mahila Udyamita Abhiyaan, an ambitious mission aimed entrepreneurial spirit of our women. Our Government's twin objectives are to strengthen income of our women entrepreneurs and also to establish them as business entrepreneurs in Amrit Kaal. We will provide an entrepreneurship fund of Rs. 10,000 to each one of 39,67,743 women members of Self-Help Groups in the rural areas, subject to certain conditions, throughout the State. Once they avail this benefit, we commit to facilitate a bank loan of minimum of Rs. 25,000 to each beneficiary. Furthermore, upon the prudent utilization and timely repayment of the loan amount, a capital subsidy of Rs. 12,500 will be provided to the beneficiary. Thus, each beneficiary would get a minimum of Rs. 47,500 as grant, subsidy and loan together. The distribution of application forms to the SHG members for availing the same has already been started. I am glad to announce that we shall extend the implementation of this scheme in urban areas also as Mukhyamantri Mahila Udyamita AbhiyaanNogoria covering approximately 2.5 lakh SHG members. I allocate adequate resources for the successful implementation of this scheme," the Assam Finance Minister said.

The Assam Finance Minister allocated Rs 3800 crore for Orunodoi 2.0 scheme, Rs. 550 crore for Assam Micro Finance Incentive and Relief Scheme - Category III, Rs. 1010 crore for Chief Minister Samagra Gramya Unnayan Yojna (CMSGUY) in this budget.

She also said, "Our Government boldly announced that we shall provide one lakh Government job to our boys and girls. We feel proud to state that we have successfully completed recruitment of 94,506 youths till January 2024. Further, advertisements for 35,910 posts have already been published taking the total jobs created to 1,30,416."

The Assam Finance Minister announced Projects for Amrit kaal - Maa Pariyojan Kamakhya Divyaloka, Infrastructure development of Guwahati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH), Renovation of Nehru Stadium into World-Class Sports Arena, Modernization of Assam State Zoo, Guwahati, Kanaklata University, Gohpur, Modern campus for Gauhati High Court at Rang Mahal, North Guwahati (Land acquisition of 130 bighas plus project cost), Kaziranga Natural History Museum, Rejuvenation of Deepor Beel, with an estimated cost of Rs 6287 crore and all these Amrit Kaal projects will be completed in three years and adequate budgetary allocation has been provided in the current year.

"This year, we will undertake 3 crore sapling plantation and for this purpose I allocate an amount of Rs. 40 crore for this purpose," Ajanta Neog said.

"Under Mission Basundhara 3.0, this domicile requirement will be relaxed in respect of tea tribes and some indigenous communities to provide them land rights," Ajanta Neog said.

She also said, "Our Government provided Rs. 1.5 lakh to registered Bihu committees which are over ten years old. This initiative will continue and I propose Rs 34.5 crore towards this. In addition, we propose to organize a record-level event of Bohag Bihu in New Delhi. Bhaona is one of the most important traditional performances of our state with deep cultural and religious roots. Bhaona combines elements of drama, dance, and music to depict stories from Hindu mythology. To promote this ancient art form, I propose to provide one time grant of Rs. 25000 to each Bhaona committee."

"Further, I propose to provide an additional amount of Rs. 5000 each to Bhaona Committees who will perform Ram Bijoy Ankiya Naat. Prabhu Ramchandra was accepted by Mahapurush Srimanta Sankaradeva as the incarnation of the Supreme Brahma. It is certainly significant that Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeva wrote the Ram Bijoy Ankiya Naat as his swan sang before his Mahaprayana. I propose an amount of Rs. 5 crore for preservation of Sri Sri Kamalabari Satra in Titabor and 2 crore for Srimanta Sankardeva Satra, Barangajuli, Udalguri district," she said

She also said, "This year, I am announcing "Punya Tirtha Yojana" and we would facilitate pilgrimage of 25000 devotees to Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, with a budgetary provision of Rs. 25 crore." (ANI)

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