Gujarat Budget 2018: Workbooks for students, bicycles for girls

The Gujarat government, in the 2018-19 Budget, presented in the Gujarat Assembly on Tuesday, offered a string of freebies and subsidies for farmers, fishermen, students and journalists, amounting to over Rs 2,100 crore. This included free-of-cost bicycles, workbooks, medicines, tool kits and bus passes.

In a move that will touch 63 lakh students in Gujarat, the state government has allocated Rs 15 crore for providing free-of-cost mathematics workbooks to 42 lakh Class 3-8 students and science workbooks to an additional 21 lakh Class 6-8 students, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel said, while presenting the Budget.

An additional Rs 64 crore has been allocated to provide free bicycles to 1.84 lakh girls, which included 24,000 girls belonging to the scheduled castes and 1.6 lakh girls belonging to the socially and economically backward classes. Free board and boarding facility will also be provided to 1.08 lakh students in grant-in-aid schools and ashramshalas for which an additional Rs 240 crore has been provided in the Budget.

In order to appease the farming community who have been at the receiving end of Narmada water cuts, a provision of Rs 500 crore has been made for providing crop loan at zero per cent interest rate.

Freebies doled out in the health sector include Rs 635 crore allocation for providing 250 to 642 types of free-of-cost medicines to all kinds of healthcare institutions ranging from Primary Health Centres to Super Specialty Hospitals. This provision also includes providing various types of qualitative diagnostic services free-of-cost under Mukhyamantri Nidan Yojana. Similarly, for scheduled tribes, a provision of Rs 15 crore has been made under “Mafat Tabibi Sahay Yojana” for treatment of diseases like tuberculosis, cancer, leprosy and sickle cell anaemia.

For those seeking self-employment, the state government under the “Manav Kalyan Yojana” has made a provision of Rs 60 crore for providing free-of-cost tool kits (worth up to Rs 20,000) to help 84,000 beneficiaries start their own business activities.

Even journalists got their share of freebies. A provision was made under the information and broadcasting department for free travelling passes in volvo buses run by the state transport to accredited “press reporters”.