An amount of Rs. 19457Cr. was disbursed to farmers during the lockdown period from 26th March 2020 till 28th May 2020 under the much-hailed PM-KISAN Yojana – a component of the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana.
Under the scheme, all landholding farmer families are entitled to an amount of Rs. 6000 payable in three equal installments over a financial year. The scheme of the Union Government, though was announced in February 2019, came into operation from December 1st, 2018.
Through the scheme, at least 9.5 Crore farmers are provided the income support to date under the scheme. Initially, the scheme was meant for the small and marginal farmers with lesser than 5 acres of cultivable land. In 2019, when Narendra Modi was re-elected as the Prime Minister and the regime known popularly as Modi 2.0, the scheme was extended to all farmers. This means, that the scheme must potentially cover around 14.5 Crore farmers as its beneficiaries.
The Case of West Bengal
However, almost 69.69 lakh farmers in the state of West Bengal have not received any income support as the state government has not yet verified the details of the farmers.
When the PM-KISAN scheme was announced, CM of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee decided that the state will not be a part of the Union Government’s scheme. However, alternatively, the ‘Krishak Bandhu’ scheme has been in place in the state of West Bengal, under which Rs. 5000 per acre to farmers is provided in two installments for both Kharif and Rabi crops. The schemes also permit the amount to be divided proportionally between share-croppers if shared cropping patterns are followed. Additionally, under the scheme, a one time grant of Rs 2 lakhs as compensation is provided to the farmers’ family in case of death of a farmer aged 18-60. However, farmers organizations have understood the need for the state to be part of the PM-KISAN scheme to be able to gain additional financial assistance in turbulent times of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and also when the state’s farmers are under deep distress due to the hit of Amphan Cyclone.
It has been noted that the state of West Bengal has not yet joined in the scheme despite numerous reminders from the Union Government including one in February 2020.
MP Dulal Chand Goswami had also raised the concern in Lok Sabha on 17th March 2020.
Earlier, In February 2020, the Union Minister of Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar has said that West Bengal has not yet joined the scheme. He had also said that there were 70 lakh farmers in the state and that the quantum of scheme’s benefit to the farmers of the state would stand at around Rs 4000 Crore. He had said that about 10 lakh farmers of the state had already self-registered on the portal and the cash benefits would reach them once the state government would verify the data.
RTI Activist, Venkatesh Naik has shared with Gauri Lankesh News the data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture in response to his RTI plea. He had filed the RTI application in May to know about the number of beneficiaries under the PM-KISAN scheme and also the amount disbursed to the beneficiaries.
The case of Karnataka
From the reply provided to the RTI plea filed, it is noted that at least 50 lakh farmers from Karnataka have benefitted from the scheme. The total amount disbursed to farmers from the state till date across 5 installments amounts to Rs. 1018.8 Crore.