Modi keeps poll promises, extends PM-Kisan scheme, flags off pension plans

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nirmala Sitharaman and others during the first cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister's Office, in New Delhi on May 31. PTI photo

In an attempt to fulfill its poll promises, the Union cabinet of the BJP-led NDA government, in its first meeting on Friday (May 31) decided to extend the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) to all 14.5 crore farmers in the country, a scheme that would cost the Central exchequer ₹ 87,000 crore in 2019-20, PTI reported. The cabinet also announced more than ₹10,000 crore pension scheme for almost 5 crore farmers in the country.

The announcement was made by newly-appointed agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who said the decisions were landmark steps for the farming community. The PM Kisan Yojana was earlier limited to farmers with two hectares of land. The BJP in its poll manifesto had promised to extend the scheme to all farmers when it forms government at the Centre.

Tomar said the scheme, under which ₹6000 is being given to farmers in three instalments per year, has so far benefitted almost 3 crore farmers in the country.

The scheme was announced in the interim Budget on February 24, 2019 under which the government had decided to provide ₹6,000 per year (in three equal instalments) to an estimated 12.5 crore small and marginal farmers holding land up to 2 hectares. So far the first installment to 3.11 crore beneficiaries and second installment to 2.66 crore beneficiaries have been credited directly to the bank accounts of farmer families.

Pension for farmers

The government approved the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Pension Yojana, under which small and marginal farmers will get a minimum pension of ₹3,000 after attaining 60 years. The beneficiaries should be in the age group of 18 to 40 to apply. Tomar said the scheme plans to bring over 5 crore farmers under its aegis in the first three years of its implementation. It would cost the exchequer ₹10,774.5 core per annum.

Traders not left behind

The cabinet also announced a pension scheme for small traders such as shopkeepers, retail traders and self-employed persons. Under the scheme small traders would be eligible to receive a monthly pension of ₹3,000 on attaining the age of 60. Almost 3 crore retail traders and shopkeepers will be covered under the scheme, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar, announced in a media interaction on May 31 evening.

Steps for livestock farmers 

The government also took decisions regarding expansion of the coverage of immunisation and elimination of Foot and Mouth disease in livestock by approving ₹13,343 crore for the eradication of the disease.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on one side delineated the four poll promises made by the BJP ahead of the poll and on the other side listed out the steps the Union government has taken regarding those in its first cabinet meeting itself.

“People first, people always. Glad that path-breaking decisions were taken in the Cabinet, the first in this tenure. Hardworking farmers and industrious traders will benefit greatly due to these decisions. The decisions will enhance dignity and empowerment of several Indians,” the tweet read.

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