Wednesday – the third day of the second week of the state session could easily be termed as the most awaited day of the one and half month long session. This was not because it was the day when the state was presenting its budget but because it the Dy. Chief Minister Ajir Pawar’s debut budget. However, to the disappointment of all, Ajit Pawar’s debut budget turned out to be colorless and directionless. Amidst noisy slogans of opposition, Dy. Chief Minister Ajir Pawar’s presented the Democratic Front government’s budget and his maiden budget on Wednesday. However, the Rs. 58-crore surplus budget for 2011-2012 turned out to be colorless and directionless. The budget was conspicuously devoid of any big ideas in crucial sectors like Agriculture, Infrastructure and Power which hold the key to the state’s transformation. We bring to you the key highlights. * DEMANDS EXCEED MAHARASHTRA BUDGET 2010-11 BY 18% The state government made an enhanced allocation of Rs. 23,223 Crore over 2010-11, thus exceeding its original budgetary demands by almost 18%. * STATE TO LEVY ADDITIONAL DUTY, TAX ON ELECTRICITY During his budget speech, Finance Minister Ajit Pawar announced that the state will levy additional duty and tax on the electricity produced and sold in the state, to fund infrastructure facilities that would be improved in areas having power generation plants. * RURAL HEALTH CARE GETS A PUSH In order to strengthen primary health care in rural parts of Maharashtra, provisions have been made for providing X-ray, ECG facilities, blood banks and increase various facilities for patients. * MAHARASHTRA TO GET 1,500 MW OF ELECTRCITY MORE This year, the state-owned MahaGenco will be adding 1,500mw to the state’s installed capacity through sets at Khaparkheda and Bhusawal, finance minister Ajit Pawar said in his budget speech. * CROP LOANS AT REDUCED RATES In order to bail out farmers, a number of schemes have been announced including making available crop loans at reduced rate of interest and waiving off penal interest on power bills for those who pay in full outstanding principal amount. * AJIT PAWAR TRIES TO PLUG THE LEAKS IN LEASE RATES IN SOUTH AND CENTRAL MUMBAI The state has decided to increase the lease rates of commercial and residential properties in south and central Mumbai that could earn the government Rs. 1,000 Crore per year. * EYE ON JOBS, STATE PUTS RS100 CRORE IN TEXTILE SECTOR The government has allocated a whopping Rs. 100 crore for the textile sector recognizing its potential in employment generation. The government is all set to announce its textile policy that is expected to give boost to the small and medium-sized enterprises in the sector. * TENANCY PLOTS – STAMP DUTY AT MARKET VALUE To arrest the major loss of the stamp duty on the tenancy rights of pagadi properties, the state government has decided to levy stamp duty on these properties at the ready reckoner prices. Finance Minister Ajit Pawar said there was 26% increase in sales tax mop up in 2010-11 and 31% rise in stamp duty collections. * FLOATING JETTY AT GATEWAY ONLY NEW INFRASTRUCTURAL PROJECT How serious is the state government about making Mumbai a world class city? The political talk may be full of dreams but, in reality, there is little that is being done. This was yet again proved in the state budget when Finance Minister Ajit Pawar announced that the city will get a floating jetty at the Gateway of India at the cost of Rs. 5 crore. Apart from this, however, there was no mention of any other significant new project. * ALLOCATION FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION UP MARGINALLY The state government allotted Rs. 1,280 Crore for two central government projects related to school-level education – Rs. 780 Crore for the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rs. 500 Crore for the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shikshan Abhiyan, which addresses secondary education. This marks a marginal increase in allocation for the school education sector since last year. * OPPOSITION CRITICIZES AJIT PAWAR’S MAIDEN BUDGET The opposition criticized Ajit Pawar’s maiden budget.
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