New Delhi: Giving major push to the social sector, Delhi government on Tuesday presented budget for 2011-12, increasing allocations for welfare schemes and making bicycles, kerosene stoves and sanitary napkins cheaper while sweetmeats, diesel-run vehicles, tobacco products and furnishings dearer.

In the Rs 27,067-crore budget, the transport sector got the highest allocation of Rs 3,348 crore, followed by Rs 1,802 crore for health sector while education has been given Rs 1,247 crore.

Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, presenting her first budget introduced an ambitious universal free health facility which will cover nearly 27 lakh school-going children upto the age of 14 years.

Dikshit also set aside Rs 405 crore for construction of houses for economically weaker sections while earmarking Rs 180 crore for improving civic amenities in slum clusters.

For development work in over 1,200 unauthorised colonies, the CM proposed an amount of Rs 698 crore along with the announcement enhanced monthly emoluments for Anganwadi workers from Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,000.

VAT limits for stoves, vehicles

Kerosene stoves, lanterns and petromax lamps and their spares have been exempted from VAT. A VAT of 12.5 per cent would, however, be imposed on unmanufactured tobacco, making all tobacco products including bidis and hookah smoking more expensive.

'Khandsari' sugar and textiles have also been exempted from VAT. Sanitary napkins costing upto Rs 20 have also been exempted from VAT.

In her tax proposals, Dikshit, known for her eco-friendly initiatives, proposed levying an additional tax of 25 per cent on existing tax rates on all diesel-propelled vehicles to "discourage people from buying diesel vehicles" while Value Added Tax on bicycles having an MRP of upto Rs 3,500 has been removed.

The budget increased the VAT on sweetmeats and 'namkeen' to 12.5 per cent from existing five per cent to discourage people from having "unhealthy eating habits".

"We are particularly concerned about the growing incidence of lifestyle diseases among Delhi's citizens. Diabetes and hypertension are some of the unfortunate byproducts of our city life and unhealthy eating habits, even among our children, need to be addressed," Dikshit said.

She proposed Rs 13,600 crore as planned outlay and Rs 13,307 crore will be non-plan expenditure.

Social sector a priority

Listing social sector as a priority area, Dikshit announced a scheme under which nine lakh "vulnerable families" will be provided smart cards which will entitle them to get various benefits of welfare schemes.

An amount of Rs 30 crore has been proposed for the preparation and issue of smart cards to the eligible households.

"After a long spell of infrastructural upgrading spanning many financial years, today when I rise to present the budget, I intend to make every citizen of the state, especially the poorest of the poor an active participant in the growth process," she said.

The government has decided to give a "major push" to the programme for construction of EWS houses, Dikshit said adding 13,800 EWS flats are ready for allotment while construction of 27,700 EWS houses will be started during 2011-12.

Health, education gets a boost

Dikshit also announced a new insurance scheme called "Apka Swasthaya Yojna" for the poor people which will provide an annual insurance cover of Rs 1.5 lakh for various critical diseases.

The government also proposed to provide free sanitary napkins to girls of class six to 12 th standard in all government and government aided schools to ensure that they attend classes during menstruation period.

Aiming to expand educational infrastructure in the capital, the NCT government plans to take up construction of 30 new school buildings at an outlay of Rs 270 crore and has proposed to further expand its scholarships to economically and socially weaker sections of the society.

The Chief Minister announced a total of 14,000 new staff in schools and enhanced scholarships for students. The MLA fund has been increased from Rs two crore to Rs 2.5 crore.

(Agencies)