The states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, and Puducherry will be going for the legislative assembly polls in the mid of 2021. The Central government is more concerned and hoping to have a significant breakthrough in the polls of these states and the scale of its concern has clearly reflected in the Union Budget as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced several schemes and measures to these poll-bound states.
Nirmala Sitharaman has unveiled the Union Budget on Monday in the Parliament amid the testing times of the COVID-19 pandemic, distressed economy, and healthcare. Apart from the announcements for reviving the economy, the Central ruling BJP had framed the budget to have talking points during the campaign trail in these states -particularly in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The government has announced the schemes and measures of over Rs 1 lakh crore to Tamil Nadu.
Most of the allotted money would be rained in Chennai and the government plans to make these projects as poll promises in Tamil Nadu. The projects include the construction of phase two of the Chennai metro railway of 118.9 kilometers at a cost of Rs 63,246 crore. Two expressways connecting Chennai have also featured in the Budget. The first is the Bengaluru - Chennai Expressway that is expected to cover 278 kilometers.
According to reports, it is expected to be initiated in the current financial year. The Center had stunned many by pouring the water for the controversial eight-lane Chennai- Salem corridor. The project has faced massive outrage and agitation from the farmers across the state who demanded the government to repeal the projects as they feared that they would lose their lands and livelihoods due to the project. However, the Tamil Nadu ruling ADMK had vowed to go ahead with the project, and now, the Center had announced to develop the project.
The reports say that the Center has proposed 3,500 km of National Highway works in the state with an investment of Rs 1.03 lakh crore and some of the projects include the Madurai-Kollam corridor and Chittoor-Thachur corridor. It has been expected that the construction will start next year. Nirmala Sitharaman said, "I'm proposing substantial investments in the development of modern fishing harbors and fish landing centers. To start with, five major fishing harbors -Chennai, Kochi, Paradip, Visakhapatnam, and Petuaghat will be developed as hubs of economic activity".
She stated, "We will also develop inland fishing harbors and fish landing centers along with the banks of rivers and waterways". The Finance Minister said that seaweed farming has been emerging as a sector with the potential to transform the lives of coastal communities and added that seaweed farming will provide large scale employment and additional incomes. "To promote seaweed cultivation, I propose a Multipurpose seaweed park to be established in Tamil Nadu", Nirmala Sitharaman added.
The reports say that around 1, 500 tonnes of naturally produced seaweed is collected annually in Tamil Nadu. The state has also already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with three private companies for collecting seaweed produced by farmers between Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram. Besides these announcements, Nirmala Sitharaman had quoted a couplet from the classic Tamil language text 'Thirukkural', "இயற்றலும் ஈட்டலுங் காத்தலும் காத்த வகுத்தலும் வல்ல தரசு", and she went on to explain the couplet and said, "a king is he who treasures gains, stores up, defends, and duly for his kingdom's wealth".
Along with Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also used the prospect of budget to unfold his Tamil outreach. Taking to Twitter, Amit Shah tweeted in Tamil and hailed the budget and schemes for Tamil Nadu. He wrote, "The Prime Minister Modi-led government, which is carrying out welfare schemes in Tamil Nadu, has allocated Rs 1.03 lakh crore under the Bharatmala project for the construction of national highways in Tamil Nadu and Rs 63,246 crore for the second phase of the 118 km Chennai Metro Rail project".
தமிழக வளர்ச்சிக்கான திட்டங்களை மேற்கொண்டு வரும் பிரதமர் மோடி தலைமையிலான அரசு தமிழ்நாட்டில் தேசிய நெடுஞ்சாலைகள் அமைப்பதற்கான பாரத்மாலா திட்டத்தின் கீழ் ரூ.1.03 லட்சம் கோடி, சென்னை மெட்ரோ ரயில் 118 கி.மீ நீளமுள்ள 2ம் கட்ட பணிகளுக்கு ரூ.63,246 கோடி பட்ஜெட்டில் ஒதுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 1, 2021