Union Budget: Karnataka CM flags Metro funding as ‘biggest gift’, Congress says state deprived

Reacting to the Union budget, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday called Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of funding the Bengaluru Metro project as the ‘biggest gift’ to the state.

The CM released a statement, saying, “An amount of Rs 14,778 crore has been announced for (the) Bengaluru Metro Project, 58 km of the new route can be constructed due to this provision. This is the biggest gift to Karnataka from our own Finance Minister.”

With the central allocation for the Namma Metro project, the speed rail network in the state capital will be stretched by 58.19 km.

During her budget address to the Parliament, Sitharaman said that central funding will be provided for phases 2A and 2B of the Metro project.

Under Phase 2A is the proposed 18.23-km elevated corridor, connecting KR Puram to the Central Silk Board via the Outer Ring Road (ORR) in Bengaluru. As part of Phase 2B, KR Puram will be linked with Bengaluru airport through a corridor spanning 37 km.

Both the routes are expected to reduce traffic congestion in the city.

While Phase 2A will help techies, as several of the city’s major corporate firms are on this route, Phase 2B will enable a faster and hassle-free commute to the airport.

In December last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had approved $500 million (about Rs 3,685 crore) loan for Phase 2A and 2B of the Metro project.

In more good news for the state, Sitharaman said that the 278-km Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway 2 project will be initiated in the current fiscal and construction will start in 2021-22.

Terming the Union budget as a ‘catalyst’ and a ‘speed booster’ that can revive sluggish economy, the CM said, “The Union Budget for 2021-22 presented by Nirmala Sitharaman has come as a catalyst that can revive this sluggish economy and I strongly believe that the budget will act as a speed booster to the economy which was badly hit due to Covid-19 pandemic.”

He said there couldn’t have been a better budget, given the persistent challenges of steering the economy through the pandemic. Calling it a ‘pro-poor’ and ‘pro-middle class’ budget, he said, “The Union Finance Minister has announced necessary strategies for economic revival as well as containment of the pandemic.”

Welcoming the central outlay of Rs 35,000 crore for the ongoing vaccination drive across the country and the promise of more funds, in necessary, the CM added that the budget has also laid emphasis on strengthening the agriculture sector, skill development, infrastructure development and industrial development.

“The budget has provided a platform to double the farmers’ income by 2022 as per the aspiration of Prime Minister Narendra Modiji, Rs 16.50 lakh crore has been allocated for agriculture and rural development,” Yediyurappa said.

“Strengthening and continuation of MSP has been emphasised. Funds to improve the infrastructure in APMCs, doubling the grants for micro irrigation and value addition programme for 22 crops will help farmers in a great way,” the CM said, adding that tax holiday for construction of affordable houses will benefit the middle class.

While lauding the Rs 1.10 lakh crore outlay under the National Railway Project, Yediyurappa said the allocation of Rs 1.07 lakh crore for capital expenditure is also a welcome move.

“Chalking out programmes for 13 sectors to realise the Prime Minister’s dream of Aathmanirbhar Bharat is a welcome step, this will go a long way to building a self-reliant India. Exemption of filing income tax returns to senior citizens above 75 years is also an appreciable measure,” he said.

Yediyurappa, who is also the finance minister of Karnataka, said, “On the whole, the Union Budget 2021-22 has the potential to be a catalyst to revive the economy and implement development programmes. I wholeheartedly welcome this budget.”

The opposition Congress, however, claimed that the state had been largely deprived in the budget. “Neither has the state received anything, nor has the needs of our youth and the frontline warriors in the Covid fight been addressed in this budget,” said state Congress president DK Shivakumar.

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