By Prabhudatta Mishra
A little over 2.25 crore farmers, including 1.08 crore in the electorally important Uttar Pradesh, have received the second installment of Rs 2,000 each under the PM-Kisan scheme since April 1, according to official data reviewed by FE. While all these farmers had got the initial installment of Rs 2,000 also, there are another 86 lakh, who received only the first installment of Rs 2,000. When the scheme was announced by the then finance minister Piyush Goyal during his interim Budget speech in February, he said it would benefit 12 crore farmers owning up to 2 hectares land, with each getting Rs 6,000 in a year in three equal installments.
The scheme, estimated to cost Rs 75,000 crore annually, took retrospective effect from December 1, 2018. The Modi government’s plan was to ensure the scheme’s benefits reach as many as eligible farmers as possible before the elections and it had firmed up a list of some 4.76 crore farmers for the cash transfer. However, the Election Commission’s model code of conduct that came into effect on March 10 and non-cooperation among some Opposition-ruled states like West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh hit the government’s plans. The deployment of the central and state government staff for election duty has also undermined the Centre’s efforts to transfer the initial two installments to all people on the beneficiary list firmed up.
“Initially, Aadhaar was not mandatory for the PM-Kisan cash transfer to beneficiary bank accounts and the payment was made even if a farmer had only Aadhaar enrollment,” a senior official said. However, since the guidelines subsequently made Aadhaar compulsory, the farmer was required to produce the Aadhaar number and thus, the process got delayed as officials have been busy on poll duty, he added.
Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, all BJP-ruled states, are the top performers in transferring the second installment that has covered over 1.41 crore farmers in these three states.