TN budget 2019: Government allocates Rs 1,700 crores for one lakh houses in cyclone-hit areas

In its state budget, the Tamil Nadu government has proposed the construction of one lakh concrete houses, at an estimated cost of Rs 1,700 crores, to replace huts damaged by cyclone Gaja in 2018

Presenting the fourth budget of the AIADMK government in the assembly, on February 8, 2019, deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam said no new taxes were proposed for the 2019-20 fiscal and assured that the revenue deficit would come down in the coming years. He said that as announced by chief minister by K Palaniswami earlier, the government will take up construction of one lakh concrete houses in cyclone Gaja-hit districts, such as Nagapattinam and Thanjavur.

“The government will take up the construction of one lakh concrete houses with a unit cost of Rs 1.70 lakhs, to replace damaged huts in districts affected by Gaja cyclone, at a total cost of Rs 1,700 crores,” he said. Of this, the centre was expected to share about Rs 720 crores, while the state government will bear the rest Rs 980 crores, he said. The state’s share will be met from debt to be raised through the Tamil Nadu Rural Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation.

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A comprehensive solid waste management project and a housing scheme for the urban poor, to construct 38,000 tenements for Chennai, were also proposed by Panneerselvam. Touching upon the Chennai Metro Rail, he said Phase-I of the project covering two corridors running to 45 kms, will be fully commissioned by this month, while its extension was expected to be on stream next June. A feasibility study was being taken up for the extension of the metro rail line from Meenambakkam Airport to Kilambakkam metro bus terminus in the southern suburbs, he added. The government also announced a number of initiatives in various sectors including implementing a Rs 2,000-crore comprehensive parking management project for Chennai city. It will have underground parking facilities, multi-level parking facilities and on-lane smart parking, to accommodate two lakh four-wheelers and an equal number of two-wheelers, Panneerselvam said.

Among other proposals, the government will procure 2,000 new electric buses, besides 12,000 new BS-VI vehicles, at an outlay of Rs 5,890 crores, with loan assistance from the German firm KfW, he said. On the energy front, the state-run TANGEDCO will be establishing floating solar power projects in Theni, Salem and Erdoe with a capacity of 250 MW at an estimated Rs 1,125 crore, he said. The recently unveiled Tamil Nadu Solar Energy Policy 2019 will increase the solar power generation capacity to 9,000 MW by 2023, the deputy chief minister said.

On the ambitious Athikadavu-Avinashi water scheme, that would benefit people in parts of western Tamil Nadu, he said the government will commence it soon, adding, a sum of Rs 1,000 crores has been provided in the next year’s budget estimates for the purpose. In the tourism sector, the government will launch a ‘massive’ promotion project, by identifying specific circuits for western, Asian and domestic tourists, with quality amenities and infrastructure. Tourism-centric infrastructure like logistics and hotels will be upgraded under the Private-Public-Partnership mode, Panneerselvam informed.

Panneerselvam, who holds the finance portfolio, pegged the state’s revenue deficit at around Rs 14,300 crores for the coming financial year. The state’s net outstanding debt by March 31, 2020 will be Rs 3,97,495.96 crores, with a debt to GSDP ratio of 23.02 per cent, which he said was well within the debt-GSDP norm of 25 per cent. Despite the ‘adverse’ impact of ‘reduced’ inter-se share in devolution due to 14th Finance Commission recommendations, the state could implement the Ujjawal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) scheme and pay revision for its employees, he said. The growth in State’s Own Tax Revenue (SOTR) in 2017-18 was 9.07 per cent and this was expected to exceed 14 per cent during the current fiscal. “Due to the positive trends in tax receipts, the revenue deficit for the year 2019-20 is expected to come down to Rs 14,315 crores, as against the projected revenue deficit of Rs 19,319 crores in revised estimates 2018-19,” he said. “With higher SOTR growth, coupled with the phasing out of the impact of UDAY and pay revision, the state expects to bring down the revenue deficit in the coming years,” Panneerselvam said. The per capita income of the state has increased from Rs 1.03 lakhs in 2011-12 to Rs 1.42 lakhs in 2017-18 in real terms, he added.

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