PM-KISAN: Nearly ₹3,000 Cr has gone to 42 lakh ineligible farmer families

Onus of beneficiary identification lies on state governments, says Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar

Under PM-KISAN, a scheme with 100% funding from the Centre, income support of ₹6,000 a year is given in three equal instalments to small and marginal farmer families having combined land holding/ownership of up to 2 hectares.

In a media blitzkrieg, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday transferred ₹19,500 crore to over 9.75 crore beneficiary farmer families, under the 9th instalment of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN).

Not so well publicised is the fact that, over the past three years, ₹2,992 crore has been transferred to nearly 42.16 lakh ineligible beneficiary accounts. Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, provided this data in response to a query in Parliament.

Under PM-KISAN, a scheme with 100% funding from the Centre, income support of ₹6,000 a year is given in three equal instalments to small and marginal farmer families having combined land holding/ownership of up to 2 hectares.

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As Tomar put forth data on the beneficiaries of PM-KISAN, it came to light that quite a number of ineligible farmers, too, have received the funds along with their eligible counterparts, since the scheme came into effect in December 2018.

Where did the money go?

Assam tops the list with deposits of about ₹554 crore in nearly 8.35 lakh ineligible beneficiary accounts. It is followed by Punjab, with over ₹400 crore into accounts of 5.62 lakh ineligible beneficiaries. Maharashtra stands third with 4.45 lakh ineligible beneficiaries getting ₹357 crore. These three states have received over half of the total amount, the data show.

Along with them, a total of nine states have received more than ₹100 crore each in the ‘wrong’ accounts. These include Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka. While Sikkim reported only 1 such ineligible account deposit, West Bengal saw 19.

While explaining the eligibility, Tomar said: “The responsibility of identifying the landholder farmer families eligible for benefit under the scheme is that of the respective state/UT government.”

The self-registration can also be done through the Farmer Corner portal. “Despite following the due verification process, some ineligible farmers including some income tax payee farmers got the benefit of the scheme,” remarked the minister.

Recovery procedure

Can the money given to ineligible beneficiaries be recovered? “Standard operation guidelines have been issued for recovering money from ineligible beneficiaries,” said Tomar. Also, states have been provided with guidelines for identification and physical verification of eligible farmers.

Even as ineligible farmers have been receiving money, there are cases where eligible farmers have missed getting listed for the scheme. These include farmers mainly from West Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Lakhs of eligible farmers are yet to get themselves registered, per claims of various state governments.

While transferring the ninth instalment of funds under the scheme on Monday, Modi said the government is taking efforts to minimise the difficulties of farmers. Right from providing seeds to taking their produce to the market, the government has helped them on all fronts, he added.

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