The Interim Budget for 2024-25, inspired by its predecessor, is essentially another step forward on the path towards achieving the vision of “Viksit Bharat” by 2047, which in the words of the Hon’ble Prime Minister will see the country in harmony with nature, with modern infrastructure and provide opportunities for all citizens and regions to reach their full untapped potential. In line with this vision and the objective of Amrit Kaal as the Kartavya Kaal, the primary focus of the 2024-25 Interim Budget is on a more comprehensive “Governance, Development and Performance” approach with plans for economic growth, inclusivity, and social welfare that is likely to ensure the continuity of earlier reforms while also laying down new ones.
A spending of Rs 47,65,768 crore has been proposed in this Interim Budget. It continues to focus on infrastructure development, by proposing to raise capital expenditure by 11.1 per cent amounting to Rs. 11.11 lakh crore which would account for about 3.4 per cent of the GDP, with the emphasis being on roads and power. There is a significant rise of about 2.8 per cent from the previous year in the funding of the road sector, with approximately Rs.2.78 lakh crore, making the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, the Ministry with the second highest budget allocation after the defence sector.
Under the PM Gati Shakti Scheme, three major economic railway corridor programs, namely, a) the energy, mineral and cement corridors, b) the port connectivity corridors, and c) the high traffic density corridors, are proposed to be implemented in the interest of enabling multi-modal connectivity. The resulting de-congestion of the high-traffic corridors is also expected to improve the operations of passenger trains which would enhance the travel speed and ensure the safety of passengers. Further, forty thousand normal rail bogies are proposed to be converted to the Vande Bharat standards to enhance safety, convenience, and the comfort of passengers.
The Interim Budget also seeks to support the rapidly increasing urbanisation by expanding urban infrastructure in large cities through the Metro Rail and NaMo Bharat, the new Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS). In the aviation sector, the expansion of existing airports and a comprehensive development of new airports are sought to be implemented under the UDAN scheme of the Civil Aviation Ministry which envisages improved regional connectivity through the development of smaller regional airports allowing for greater and easier access to aviation facilities for common citizens.
A joint consideration of these proposals coupled with the proposed projects for port connectivity and tourism infrastructure in total, indicate the emphasis on improving the public transport infrastructure and general connectivity in the country. An increase in the allocation to the Telecom sector has been noted owing to the revival of BSNL. The Interim Budget also envisages long-term interest-free loans to the States for the development of tourist centres.
The Interim Budget’s focus on Green Energy and India’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2070 has propelled various initiatives such as rooftop solarisation, viability gap funding for the harnessing of offshore wind energy potential for an initial capacity of one giga-watt, setting up coal gasification and liquefication capacity of 100 MT by 2030, phased mandatory blending of compressed natural gas and extending financial assistance for the procurement of biomass aggregation machinery. Further, stress was laid on the expansion of Electric Vehicle manufacturing and strengthening the supporting charging infrastructure which would not only create employment and entrepreneurial opportunities but also encourage sustainable development in the country.
In conclusion, the Interim Budget seems to hold promise that shall be tested for effectiveness based on the extent of development coupled with sustainability.
Under the PM Gati Shakti Scheme, three major economic railway corridor programs, namely, a) the energy, mineral and cement corridors, b) the port connectivity corridors, and c) the high traffic density corridors, are proposed to be implemented in the interest of enabling multi-modal connectivity. The resulting de-congestion of the high-traffic corridors is also expected to improve the operations of passenger trains which would enhance the travel speed and ensure the safety of passengers.