A parliamentary panel has criticised the department of agriculture and farmers welfare for surrendering Rs 19,762 crore after raising supplementary demand of Rs 22,245 crore for the current fiscal, due to non-utilisation.
“The committee is constrained to note that raising supplementary demands on one hand and surrender of funds on the other are incompatible and reflects on the expenditure planning done by the department of agriculture and farmers welfare,” the standing committee on agriculture, animal husbandry and food processing (2022-23), in its 51st report, has stated.
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The committee has urged the department to undertake the planning of utilisation of allocated funds seriously and ensure expenditure of the funds in the planned and stipulated manner.
The panel has noted that by the end of January, 2023, the department could utilise around 59% of Rs 1.1 trillion allocated to it under revised estimate for 2022-23. “The department needs to strive hard to fully utilise the funds in the remaining period of one month or more of 2022-23 which seems to be an arduous task”.
The committee has also stated that the agriculture department has surrendered Rs 44,015 crore between 2020-21 and 2022-23 as it could not utilise the fund.
The panel has asked the government to avoid the practice of surrender of funds.
The panel report said surrender of funds by the department of agriculture and farmers welfare is mainly on account of ‘less requirement’ for the schemes meant for welfare of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities, especially in north-eastern states.
However, the panel has stated that practice of surrender of funds must be avoided by all means so that the tangible benefits accrued from the schemes are allowed to percolate to the ground level in an optimum manner.
According to the panel, on the issue of linking inflation with PM Kisan where Rs 6000 is provided to farmers in three equal installments annually to more than 80 million farmers, the agriculture department has stated that there is no plan to link both.
The panel has also recommended integration of all mandis pan India with electronic-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) platform so that online transaction of agri-commodities be done by the farmers located at remote corners of the country to fetch good prices for their produce.
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At present, 1,260 mandis in 22 states and union territories are integrated into the e-NAM platform. Another 101 mandi in the e-NAM platform will be added by the end of the month. There are around 3000 mandis in the country.
Last year, the government had allowed integration of trading, transportation, logistics, warehousing, assaying, packaging, weather forecast and fintech services provided by 60 odd private entities through Platform of Platform with e-NAM portal, a move that allows more farmers use the online platform to sell their produce to buyers of their choice.
The parliamentary panel has also asked the department to look into reasons for delays in settlements of claims by insurance companies under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.