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UP Budget loosens purse strings for airport in Ayodhya, metro rail

UP Budget loosens purse strings for airport in Ayodhya, metro rail

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday set aside Rs 500 crore for an airport in Ayodhya and Rs 200 crore for the beautification of Varanasi's Kashi Vishwanath temple in a budget that is also big on road and metro rail projects.

The Budget presented in the state assembly by Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna provides Rs 2,000 crore for the new airport project at Jewar near Delhi.

The Kanpur Metro Rail Project gets Rs 358 crore and Rs 286 crore has been allocated for the metro rail in Agra. It has earmarked Rs 200 crore more for metro rail projects in Gorakhpur and other cities.

The 2020-21 Budget sets a target for the construction of four lakh houses for the weaker sections within a year and lists schemes to help the youth make a living. New universities will come up in Aligarh, Azamgarh and Saharanpur.

Addressing reporters later, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath called the Budget - the fourth presented by his government - historic , growth-oriented and people-friendly . Opposition parties, however, termed it directionless and a farce .

The Rs 5.12 lakh crore Budget is bigger than the one presented last year by Rs 33,159 crore. It has provisions for new schemes worth Rs 10,967 crore, Khanna said. Among the major allocations is Rs 500 crore for an airport at Ayodhya, where the construction of a Ram temple is expected to begin in the next few months.

In addition, the state government will spend Rs 85 crore for the development of the pilgrim city as a tourist spot. Another Rs 10 crore will go on the renovation of the Tulsi Smarak Bhawan, dedicated to the author of Ramcharitmanas.

The Budget allocates Rs 200 crore for the expansion and beautification of Kashi Vishwanath temple in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi constituency. Another Rs 180 crore will go on setting up a cultural centre in the holy city.

The government announced two new schemes to provide employment for the youth -- the Chief Minister's Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (CMAPS) and the Yuva Udhyamita Vikas Abhiyan (YUVA). Under CMAPS, the Centre and state government will pay a combined stipend of Rs 2,500 per month.

The Budget lays emphasis on developing metro networks, airports and expressways.

Besides the allocation for the metro projects, it provides Rs 2,000 crore for the 637-km 'Ganga Expressway' from Meerut to Allahabad, which the government says will be in the longest in the country.

The Noida International Greenfield Airport at Jewar near Delhi has been allotted Rs 2,000 crore, which is about half of the estimated cost of its first phase of construction.

The airport is expected to go operational by 2023," Khanna said in his speech.

The Budget estimates total receipts of 5,00,558 crore -- Rs 4,22,567 crore through revenue and Rs 77,990 crore through capital receipts. It estimates a deficit of Rs 12,302 crore.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the Budget focused on the youth. "The Budget will play a major role in achieving the goal of one trillion dollar economy for the state and meet the target of making India a dollar five trillion economy," he said.

But opposition parties slammed the exercise.

"The government is betraying all sections -- be they youth, farmers or women. The BJP says it wants to make the state a trillion dollar economy but it is not saying from where the investment will come," Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav told reporters.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati called it a farce .

The promises and claims made in the Budget appear hollow and are only on paper, she said.

UP Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu said the Budget is "directionless" and a mere "jugglery of figures".

"The Budget has nothing for the youth, farmers, women and the poor," he said.

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