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`Budget will focus on rural development'

By Our Special Correspondent

GULBARGA, FEB. 20. The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, said here today that the Budget, which will be presented on March 11, will be rural oriented with stress on priority areas such as power, irrigation, housing and drinking water.

Giving broad hints about the "pro-people" nature of the Budget, Mr. Singh told presspersons that the stress will be on rural development and more funds will be provided for infrastructure development and completion of pending irrigation projects.

Mr. Singh said the pre-Budget discussion will begin next week to finalise the allocation for various departments and for welfare programmes.

Mr. Singh, who arrived from Hyderabad to participate in a private function, admitted that there has been a delay in implementing the promise made to farmers on reducing the interest rate for loans to 6 per cent and a definite announcement in this regard will be made in the Budget.

Drinking water

He said the drinking water situation in some parts of the State is precarious and to tackle the water shortage till the onset of monsoon the Government has released Rs. 150 crores to the districts.

To a question, Mr. Singh said he is not happy with the response of the Centre on the State's demand for assistance to tackle drought.

Only Rs. 42 crores has been released as against the demand of Rs. 1,100 crores made in the memorandum submitted to the Centre.

The Chief Minister said that during his recent visit to New Delhi and during the visit of the Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, to Bangalore he had made a forceful plea for releasing adequate funds to tackle drought in the State. However, Mr. Singh hastened to add that the State Government is also aware of the limitations of the Centre in meeting the demands of States to tackle drought.

Rail projects

On the pending railway projects in the State, Mr. Singh said he had discussed this with the Minister of State for Railways, R. Velu, in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum.

On the demand of the people of the region for a railway divisional headquarters in Gulbarga city, Mr. Singh said he will take up the issue with the Union Government.

On the statement war between the Janata Dal (S) President and former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, and the President of the KPCC, B. Janardhana Poojary, and their call to party workers to be ready for elections, Mr. Singh said he had nothing to comment on that.

When presspersons asked whether he (Mr. Singh) was ready to face the elections, the Chief Minister quipped: "If such a situation arises, one has to be ready."

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