Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents first digital Union Budget 2021-22: Key Highlights

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday presented the first ever digital Union Budget and spelled out the six pillars of the budget.

Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday presented the first ever digital Union Budget 2021-22 and stated that India’s fight against COVID-19 continues into 2021. She said this moment in history, when the political, economic, and strategic relations in the post-COVID world are changing, is the dawn of a new era – one in which India is well-poised to truly be the land of promise and hope.

The key highlights of the Union Budget 2021-22 are based on six pillars:

1. Health and Wellbeing

2. Physical & Financial Capital, and Infrastructure

3. Inclusive Development for Aspirational India

4. Reinvigorating Human Capital

5. Innovation and R&D

6. Minimum Government and Maximum Governance

1. Health and Wellbeing

1. Rs 2,23,846 crore outlay for Health and Wellbeing in BE 2021-22 as against Rs. 94,452 crore in BE 2020-21 – an increase of 137 per cent

2. Focus on strengthening three areas: Preventive, Curative, and Wellbeing

3. Steps being taken for improving health and wellbeing:


Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccine in BE 2021-22

The Made-in-India Pneumococcal Vaccine to be rolled out across the country, from present five states – to avert 50,000 child deaths annually

Health Systems

Rs. 64,180-crore outlay over six years for PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana – a new centrally sponsored scheme to be launched, in addition to NHM

Main interventions under PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana:

- National Institution for One Health

- 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centers

- 4 regional National Institutes for Virology

- 15 Health Emergency Operation Centers and 2 mobile hospitals

- Integrated public health labs in all districts and 3382 block public health units in 11 states

- Critical care hospital blocks in 602 districts and 12 central institutions

- Strengthening of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), its 5 regional branches and 20 metropolitan health surveillance units

- Expansion of the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs

- 17 new Public Health Units and strengthening of 33 existing Public Health Units

- Regional Research Platform for WHO South-East Asia Region

- 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories


- Mission Poshan 2.0 to be launched:

- To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome

- Merging the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and the Poshan Abhiyan

- Intensified strategy to be adopted to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 Aspirational Districts

Universal Coverage of Water Supply

Rs. 2,87,000 crore over 5 years for Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) - to be launched with an aim to provide: 2.86 crore household tap connections, Universal water supply in all 4,378 Urban Local Bodies and Liquid waste management in 500 AMRUT cities

Swachch Bharat, Swasth Bharat

- Rs. 1,41,678 crore over 5 years for Urban Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0

- Main interventions under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) 2.0:

- Complete faecal sludge management and waste water treatment

- Source segregation of garbage

- Reduction in single-use plastic

- Reduction in air pollution by effectively managing waste from construction-and-demolition activities

- Bio-remediation of all legacy dump sites

Clean Air

Rs 2,217 crore to tackle air pollution, for 42 urban centers with a million-plus population

Scrapping Policy

-Voluntary vehicle scrapping policy to phase out old and unfit vehicles

-Fitness tests in automated fitness centres:

-After 20 years in case of personal vehicles

-After 15 years in case of commercial vehicles

2. Physical and Financial Capital and Infrastructure

Production Linked Incentive scheme (PLI)

- Rs 1.97 lakh crore in next five years for PLI schemes in 13 Sectors

- To create and nurture manufacturing global champions for an AatmaNirbhar Bharat

- To help manufacturing companies become an integral part of global supply chains, possess core competence and cutting-edge technology

- To bring scale and size in key sectors

- To provide jobs to the youth


-Mega Investment Textiles Parks (MITRA) scheme, in addition to PLI:

-Textile Parks to be established over 3 years

-Textile industry to become globally competitive, attract large investments and boost employment generation & exports


- National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) expanded to 7,400 projects:

- Around 217 projects worth Rs. 1.10 lakh crore completed

- Measures in three thrust areas to increase funding for NIP:

- Creation of institutional structures

- Big thrust on monetizing assets

- Enhancing the share of capital expenditure

Creation of institutional structures: Infrastructure Financing

- Rs 20,000 crore to set up and capitalise a Development Financial Institution(DFI) – to act as a provider, enabler and catalyst for infrastructure financing

- Rs 5 lakh crore lending portfolio to be created under the proposed DFI in 3 years

- Debt Financing by Foreign Portfolio Investors to be enabled by amending InvITs’ and REITs’ legislations

- Big thrust on monetizing assets

- National Monetization Pipeline to be launched

Important asset monetization measures:

- 5 operational toll roads worth Rs. 5,000 crore being transferred to the NHAIInvIT

- Transmission assets worth Rs. 7,000 crore to be transferred to the PGCILInvIT

- Dedicated Freight Corridor assets to be monetized by Railways, for operations and maintenance, after commissioning

- Next lot of airports to be monetized for operations and management concession

Other core infrastructure assets to be rolled out under the Asset Monetization Programme:

- Oil and Gas Pipelines of GAIL, IOCL and HPCL

- AAI Airports in Tier II and III cities

- Other Railway Infrastructure Assets

- Warehousing Assets of CPSEs such as Central Warehousing Corporation and NAFED

Sports Stadiums: Sharp Increase in Capital Budget

-Rs. 5.54 lakh crore capital expenditure in BE 2021-22 – sharp increase of 34.5% over Rs. 4.12 lakh crore allocated in BE 2020-21 :

-Over Rs. 2 lakh crore to States and Autonomous Bodies for their Capital Expenditure.

-Over Rs. 44,000 crore for the Department of Economic Affairs to provide for projects/programmes/departments exhibiting good progress on Capital Expenditure

Roads and Highways Infrastructure

-Rs. 1,18,101 lakh crore, highest ever outlay, for Ministry of Road Transport and Highways – of which Rs. 1,08,230 crore is for capital

-Under the Rs. 5.35 lakh crore Bharatmala Pariyojana, more than 13,000 km length of roads worth Rs. 3.3 lakh crore awarded for construction:

-3,800 km have already been constructed

-Another 8,500 km to be awarded for construction by March 2022

-Additional 11,000 km of national highway corridors to be completed by March 2022

Economic corridors being planned:

-Rs. 1.03 lakh crore outlay for 3,500 km of NHs in Tamil Nadu

-Rs. 65,000 crore investment for 1,100 km of NHs in Kerala

-Rs. 25,000 crore for 675 km of NHs in West Bengal

-Over Rs. 34,000 crore to be allocated for 1300 km of NHs to be undertaken in next 3 years in Assam, in addition to Rs. 19,000 crore works of NHs currently in progress in the State

Flagship Corridors/Expressways:

-Delhi-Mumbai Expressway – Remaining 260 km to be awarded before 31.3.2021

-Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway – 278 km to be initiated in the current FY; construction to begin in 2021-22

-Kanpur-Lucknow Expressway – 63 km expressway providing an alternate route to NH 27 to be initiated in 2021-22

-Delhi-Dehradun economic corridor – 210 km to be initiated in the current FY; construction to begin in 2021-22

-Raipur-Vishakhapatnam – 464 km passing through Chhattisgarh, Odisha and North Andhra Pradesh, to be awarded in the current year; construction to start in 2021-22

-Chennai-Salem corridor – 277 km expressway to be awarded and construction to start in 2021-22

-Amritsar-Jamnagar – Construction to commence in 2021-22

-Delhi-Katra – Construction will commence in 2021-22

Advanced Traffic management system in all new 4 and 6-lane highways:

-Speed radars

-Variable message signboards

-GPS enabled recovery vans will be installed

Railway Infrastructure

 Rs. 1,10,055 crore for Railways of which Rs. 1,07,100 crore is for capital expenditure

National Rail Plan for India (2030): to create a ‘future ready’ Railway system by 2030

100% electrification of Broad-Gauge routes to be completed by December, 2023

Broad Gauge Route Kilometers (RKM) electrification to reach 46,000 RKM, i.e. 72% by end of 2021

Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) and Eastern DFC to be commissioned by June 2022, to bring down the logistic costs – enabling Make in India strategy

Additional initiatives proposed:

The Sonnagar-Gomoh Section (263.7 km) of Eastern DFC to be taken up in PPP mode in 2021-22

Future dedicated freight corridor projects –

East Coast corridor from Kharagpur to Vijayawada

East-West Corridor from Bhusaval to Kharagpur to Dankuni

North-South corridor from Itarsi to Vijayawada

Measures for passenger convenience and safety:

Aesthetically designed Vista Dome LHB coach on tourist routes for better travel

High density network and highly utilized network routes to have an indigenously developed automatic train protection system, eliminating train collision due to human error

Urban Infrastructure

Raising the share of public transport in urban areas by expansion of metro rail network and augmentation of city bus service

Rs 18,000 crore for a new scheme, to augment public bus transport:

Innovative PPP models to run more than 20,000 buses

To boost automobile sector, provide fillip to economic growth, create employment opportunities for our youth

A total of 702 km of conventional metro is operational and another 1,016 km of metro and RRTS is under construction in 27 cities

‘MetroLite’ and ‘MetroNeo’ technologies to provide metro rail systems at much lesser cost with similar experience in Tier-2 cities and peripheral areas of Tier-1 cities. 

Central counterpart funding to:

Kochi Metro Railway Phase-II of 11.5 km at a cost of Rs. 1957.05 crore

Chennai Metro Railway Phase –II of 118.9 km at a cost of Rs. 63,246 crore

Bengaluru Metro Railway Project Phase 2A and 2B of 58.19 km at a cost of Rs. 14,788 crore

Nagpur Metro Rail Project Phase-II and Nashik Metro at a cost of Rs. 5,976 crore and Rs. 2,092 crore respectively.

Power Infrastructure

139 Giga Watts of installed capacity and 1.41 lakh circuit km of transmission lines added, and additional 2.8 crore households connected in past 6 years

Consumers to have alternatives to choose the Distribution Company for enhancing competitiveness

Rs. 3,05,984 crore over 5 years for a revamped, reforms-based and result-linked new power distribution sector scheme

A comprehensive National Hydrogen Energy Mission 2021-22 to be launched

Ports, Shipping, Waterways

Rs 2,000 crore worth 7 projects to be offered in PPP-mode in FY21-22 for operation of major ports

Indian shipping companies to get Rs. 1624 crore worth subsidy support over 5 years in global tenders of Ministries and CPSEs

To double the recycling capacity of around 4.5 Million Light Displacement Tonne (LDT) by 2024; to generate an additional 1.5 lakh jobs

Petroleum and Natural Gas

Extention of Ujjwala Scheme to cover 1 crore more beneficiaries

To add 100 more districts to the City Gas Distribution network in next 3 years

A new gas pipeline project in J&K

An independent Gas Transport System Operator to be set up for facilitation and coordination of booking of common carrier capacity in all-natural gas pipelines on a non-discriminatory open access basis

Financial Capital

A single Securities Markets Code to be evolved

Support for development of a world class Fin-Tech hub at the GIFT-IFSC

A new permanent institutional framework to help in development of Bond market by purchasing investment grade debt securities both in stressed and normal times

Setting up a system of Regulated Gold Exchanges: SEBI to be notified as a  regulator and Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority to be strengthened

To develop an investor charter as a right of all financial investors

Capital infusion of Rs. 1,000 crore to Solar Energy Corporation of India and Rs. 1,500 crore to Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency

Increasing FDI in Insurance Sector

To increase the permissible FDI limit from 49% to 74% and allow foreign ownership and control with safeguards

Stressed Asset Resolution

Asset Reconstruction Company Limited and Asset Management Company to be set up

Recapitalization of PSBs

Rs 20,000 crore in 2021-22 to further consolidate the financial capacity of PSBs

Deposit Insurance

Amendments to the DICGC Act, 1961, to help depositors get an easy and time-bound access to their deposits to the extent of the deposit insurance cover

Minimum loan size eligible for debt recovery under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002 proposed to be reduced from Rs. 50 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh for NBFCs with minimum asset size of Rs.  100 crore

Company Matters

To decriminalize the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Act, 2008

Easing Compliance requirement of Small companies by revising their definition under Companies Act, 2013 by increasing their thresholds for Paid up capital from “not exceeding Rs. 50 Lakh” to “not exceeding Rs. 2 Crore” and turnover from “not exceeding Rs. 2 Crore” to “not exceeding Rs. 20 Cr”.

Promoting start-ups and innovators by incentivizing the incorporation of One Person Companies (OPCs):

Allowing their growth without any restrictions on paid up capital and turnover

Allowing their conversion into any other type of company at any time,

Reducing the residency limit for an Indian citizen to set up an OPC from 182 days to 120 days and

Allowing Non Resident Indians (NRIs) to incorporate OPCs in India.

To ensure faster resolution of cases by:

Strengthening NCLT framework

Implementation of e-Courts system

Introduction of alternate methods of debt resolution and special framework for MSMEs

Launch of data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning driven MCA21 Version 3.0 in 2021-22

Disinvestment and Strategic Sale

Rs 1,75,000 crore estimated receipts from disinvestment in BE 2020-21

Strategic disinvestment of BPCL, Air India, Shipping Corporation of India, Container Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, BEML, Pawan Hans, Neelachal Ispat Nigam limited etc. to be completed in 2021-22.

Other than IDBI Bank, two Public Sector Banks and one General Insurance company to be privatized

IPO of LIC in 2021-22

New policy for Strategic Disinvestment approved; CPSEs except in four strategic areas to be privatized

NITI Aayog to work out on the next list of CPSEs to be taken up for strategic disinvestment

Incentivizing States for disinvestment of their Public Sector Companies, using central funds

Special Purpose Vehicle in the form of a company to monetize idle land

Introducing a revised mechanism for ensuring timely closure of sick or loss making CPSEs

Government Financial Reforms

Treasury Single Account (TSA) System for Autonomous Bodies to be extended for universal application

Separate Administrative Structure to streamline the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for Cooperatives

3. Inclusive Development for Aspirational India

The Finance Minister announced to cover Agriculture and Allied sectors, farmers’ welfare and rural India, migrant workers and labour, and financial inclusion.


Ensured MSP at minimum 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities.

With steady increase in the procurement, payment to farmers increased as under:

- SWAMITVA Scheme to be extended to all States/UTs,  1.80 lakh property-owners in 1,241 villages have already been provided cards

- Agricultural credit target enhanced to Rs. 16.5 lakh crore in FY22 - animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries to be the focus areas

- Rural Infrastructure Development Fund to be enhanced to Rs. 40,000 crore from Rs. 30,000 crore

- To double the Micro Irrigation Fund to Rs. 10,000 crore

- Operation Green Scheme’ to be extended to 22 perishable products, to boost value addition in agriculture and allied products

- Around 1.68 crore farmers registered and Rs. 1.14 lakh crore of trade value carried out through e-NAMs; 1,000 more mandis to be integrated with e-NAM to bring transparency and competitiveness.

- APMCs to get access to the Agriculture Infrastructure Funds for augmenting infrastructure facilities


-Investments to develop modern fishing harbours and fish landing centres – both marine and inland

-5 major fishing harbours – Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, and Petuaghat to be developed as hubs of economic activity

-Multipurpose Seaweed Park in Tamil Nadu to promote seaweed cultivation

Migrant Workers and Labourers

-One Nation One Ration Card scheme for beneficiaries to claim rations anywhere in the country - migrant workers to benefit the most

-Scheme implementation so far covered 86% of beneficiaries across 32 States and UTs

-Remaining 4 states to be integrated in next few months

-Portal to collect information on unorganized labour force, migrant workers especially, to help formulate schemes for them

-Implementation of 4 labour codes underway

-Social security benefits for gig and platform workers too

-Minimum wages and coverage under the Employees State Insurance Corporation applicable for all categories of workers

-Women workers allowed in all categories, including night-shifts with adequate protection

-Compliance burden on employers reduced with single registration and licensing, and online returns

Financial Inclusion

Under Stand-Up India Scheme for SCs, STs and women,

-Margin money requirement reduced to 15%

-To also include loans for allied agricultural activities

-Rs. 15,700 crore budget allocation to MSME Sector, more than double of this year’s BE

Reinvigorating Human Capital

School Education

-15,000 schools to be strengthened by implementing all NEP components. Shall act as exemplar schools in their regions for mentoring others

-100 new Sainik Schools to be set up in partnership with NGOs/private schools/states

Higher Education

-Legislation to be introduced to setup Higher Education Commission of India as an umbrella body with 4 separate vehicles for standard-setting, accreditation, regulation, and funding

-Creation of formal umbrella structure to cover all Govt. colleges, universities, research institutions in a city for greater synergy.

-Glue grant to implement the same across 9 cities

-Central University to come up in Leh for accessibility of higher education in Ladakh

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Welfare

-750 Eklavya model residential schools in tribal areas:

-Unit cost of each school to be increased to Rs. 38 crore

-For hilly and difficult areas, to Rs. 48 crore

-Focus on creation of robust infrastructure facilities for tribal students

-Revamped Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for welfare of SCs

-Rs. 35,219 crore enhanced Central Assistance for 6 years till 2025-2026

-4 crore SC students to benefit


-Proposed amendment to Apprenticeship Act to enhance opportunities for youth

-Rs. 3000 crore for realignment of existing National Apprenticeship Training Scheme (NATS) towards post-education apprenticeship, training of graduates and diploma holders in Engineering

-Initiatives for partnership with other countries in skilling to be taken forward, similar to partnership:

-With UAE to benchmark skill qualifications, assessment, certification, and deployment of certified workforce

-With Japan for a collaborative Training Inter Training Programme (TITP) to transfer of skills, technique and knowledge

Innovation and R&D

Modalities of National Research Foundation announced in July 2019 –

Rs 50,000 crore outlay over 5 years

To strengthen overall research ecosystem with focus on national-priority thrust areas

Rs. 1,500 crore for proposed scheme to promote digital modes of payment

National Language Translation Mission (NTLM) to make governance-and-policy related knowledge available in major Indian languages

PSLV-CS51 to be launched by New Space India Limited (NSIL) carrying Brazil’s Amazonia Satellite and some Indian satellites

As part of the Gaganyaan mission activities:

4 Indian astronauts being trained on Generic Space Flight aspects, in Russia

First unmanned launch is slated for December 2021

Rs. 4,000 crore over five years for Deep Ocean Mission survey exploration and conservation of deep sea biodiversity

6. Minimum Government, Maximum Governance

-Measures being undertaken to bring reforms in Tribunals to ensure speedy justice

-National Commission for Allied Healthcare Professionals already introduced to ensure transparent and efficient regulation of the 56 allied healthcare professions

-The National Nursing and Midwifery Commission Bill introduced for the same in nursing profession

Proposed Conciliation Mechanism with mandate for quick resolution of contractual disputes with CPSEs

-Rs 3,768 crore allocated for first digital census in the history of India

Rs. 300 crore grant to the Government of Goa for the diamond jubilee celebrations of the state’s liberation from Portuguese

-Rs. 1,000 crore for the welfare of Tea workers especially women and their children in Assam and West Bengal through a special scheme

-RE for Expenditure is Rs. 34.50 lakh crore as against original BE expenditure of Rs. 30.42 lakh crore

-Quality of expenditure has been maintained as Capital Expenditure estimated as per RE is Rs. 4.39 lakh crore in 2020-2021 as against Rs. 4.12 lakh crore in BE 2020-21

-Estimates of Rs. 34.83 lakh crore BE for expenditure in 2021-2022 including Rs. 5.5 lakh crore as capital expenditure, an increase of 34.5% to give required push to economy

-The fiscal deficit in BE 2021-2022 is estimated to be 6.8% of GDP. The fiscal deficit in RE 2020-21 is pegged at 9.5% of GDP - funded through Government borrowings, multilateral borrowings, Small Saving Funds and short-term borrowings

-Gross borrowing from the market for the next year to be around 12 lakh crore.

-Plan to continue on the path of fiscal consolidation, achieving a fiscal deficit level below 4.5% of GDP by 2025-2026 with a fairly steady decline over the period

-It will be achieved by increasing the buoyancy of tax revenue through improved compliance, and secondly, by increased receipts from monetisation of assets, including Public Sector Enterprises and land

-Deviation Statement under Sections 4(5) and 7(3) (b) of the FRBM Act tabled necessitated by this year’s unforeseen and unprecedented circumstances

-Amendment to FRBM Act proposed to achieve targeted Fiscal Deficit levels

-The Contingency Fund of India is to be augmented from Rs. 500 crore to Rs. 30,000 crore through Finance Bill

Net borrowing of the States:

-Net borrowing for the states allowed at 4% of GSDP for the year 2021-2022 as per recommendation of 15th FC

-Part of this earmarked for incremental capital expenditure

-Additional borrowing ceiling of 0.5% of GSDP will be provided subject to conditions

-States expected to reach a fiscal deficit of 3% of GSDP by 2023-24, as recommended by the 15th Finance Commission

Fifteenth Finance Commission:

-The final report covering 2021-26 was submitted to the President, retaining vertical shares of states at 41%

-Funds to UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh would be provided by Centre

-On the Commission’s recommendation, Rs. 1,18,452 crore have been provided as Revenue Deficit Grant to 17 states in 2021-22, as against Rs. 74,340 crore to 14 states in 2020-21

First Published:Feb. 1, 2021, 4:37 p.m.

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