At a time when the Union government stepped up its capital expenditure by 35.4%, the Chandigarh administration’s allocation for capital works has been slashed by 12.8%. Capital expenditure is the government spending on infrastructure and development works.

Overall, there is a marginal increase of 3.8% ( 196.67 crore) in the budget outlay for Chandigarh, from 5186.12 crore in 2021-2022 to 5,382 crore in the coming fiscal. However, the marginal increase is concentrated under the revenue head, which is the government money spent on salaries, wages, subsidies, loan interest, etc.

As compared to the UT administration’s request for 5,833 crore, the allocation is 450 crore less. Notably, for the fiscal 2021-2022, the budgetary allocation for the city had seen only 0.93% rise.

Union Budget: Chandigarh sees 12% cut in capital expenditure

UT adviser Dharam Pal said: “We are satisfied with the current budget allotted by the Government of India, but will take up the request of increasing it to the original budget demand during revised estimates.”

Routine over development

Of the total budget 5,382.79 crore, the UT administration has got 4,843.46 crore under the revenue head, which is 275.79 crore more than the last year’s 4,567.67 crore.

Under the capital head, the UT has been allocated 539.33 crore, a decrease of 79.12 crore. Last year, it had been allocated 618 crore.

The sharpest allocation reduction is for urban development, which has seen a cut from 238 crore to 111 crore. There is a cut in allocation in education (along with sports, arts and culture) and housing too (see graphic).

For health, the capital expenditure has remained stagnant at 67 crore. Under health, some of the planned projects include upgrading 50-bed community health centre to 250-bed hospital, strengthening 50-bed poly clinic and rural and urban subsidiary health centres, and construction of a regional trauma centre and mental health institute.

For road transport, which mainly involve purchase of new electric buses, there is an increase in outlay from 31 crore to 43 crore. Similarly, for tourism, the allocation has been increased from 2.16 crore to 3.51 crore.

Major power push

The big increase in capital expenditure is for power projects, which mainly comprises installation of smart meters, where it has been increased from 30 crore to 71 crore. In a push for new and renewable energy, the allocation has been doubled from 7 crore to 14 crore.

“No development or infrastructure work will be impacted by the reduction in capital expenditure. We will continue with the planned works, and assess the situation in September-October. If required, we will request the Union government for additional funds,” said Pal.

Mixed response from industry

Manish Gupta, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Chandigarh, said: “The Union Budget has many positives for Chandigarh. The extension of emergency credit line guarantee scheme to March 2023 and expanding the total cover to 5 lakh crores, with the additional amount being earmarked exclusively for the hospitality and related enterprises, is a welcome step for MSMEs engaged in these sectors in Chandigarh.”

However, Chander Verma, president of Chandigarh Business Council, said traders in the city felt let-down by the budget. “Last year during the lockdown the traders couldn’t open their shops and we were expecting some relief in form of tax waivers or lowering of interest rates, but the whole community has been neglected,” he said, adding that the UT administration must provide relief to the business community from its own end.

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