100 million Farmers will get Rs 2000 by March-end: Gajendra Shekhawat

Minister of State for Agriculture,  Gajendra Shekhawat said that the Centre will give 10 crore farmers Rs 2,000 each by the end of March and will be able to quickly transfer subsequent instalments under the PM-KISAN or Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme for small farmers.

Shekhawat said the 1st payment may not be as simple as subsequent transfers adding that “Distribution of the 2nd part will be easier as all the recipients will have their bank accounts linked with Aadhaar to make the process quick”.

Former bureaucrats and experts said the rollout might face challenges, mainly in big states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where land records may not have been completely digitised.

Speed would be vital with elections due in a few months. The minister said the Centre has asked states for lists of eligible farmers, but it already had a wealth of data for the scheme.

He further said, “We have the record of majority of farmers as they are already our recipients of various subsidy schemes. In addition, soil health card is also our main source of data. And I don’t think any state would want to lag behind in this work.”

Subhash Chandra Garg, Economic Affairs Secretary said the agriculture ministry would go all out to execute the scheme adding that they would do it on a campaign form to get it as quick as possible.

Piyush Goyal, Interim Finance Minister in his budget speech said that in the current fiscal, Rs 20,000 crore will be given for the scheme to help farmers with up to 2 hectares of land. The amount is sufficient to pay 100 million farmer’s first instalment of Rs 2000. Rs 75,000 crore has been allocated in the next fiscal that can give 120 million farmers 3 such instalments.

Experts meanwhile said the scheme faces challenges. Siraj Hussain, former Agriculture Secretary said PM-KISAN is a good scheme that can be the forerunner to a UBI or Universal Basic Income in few years. Hussain said the implementation would be difficult, even though the Centre has asked states to make a record of small and marginal farmer families and link it to an ID.

He said, “In a normal situation, this task would take at least 6 months even in states with better data of land records. But as the government is pushing very hard, it is likely that at least in some districts of every state; such a transfer would be possible before 31st March.”

On the other hand, officials in some states including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan said they had not received any information from the government so far.

PK Basu, another former Agriculture Secretary also said that the execution would be a challenge. He said, “The scheme looks fancy. But execution on the ground will be a big challenge, particularly in populated states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where digitization of land records is not in proper order. Implementation in western and southern parts of India like Gujarat and Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala would be much easier.”

He added that in Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand where state governments have already rolled out similar cash credit schemes, the Centre can easily make an advance.

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