The total number of farmers expected to be covered by the current scheme may be around 11 crore by the end of FY21.
The Centre has transferred Rs 5,125 crore under the flagship direct income support scheme PM-Kisan since the coronavirus relief package was announced, while the target is to disburse April-July instalment of Rs 2,000 each to about 9 crore farmers immediately, front-loading release of the money which was otherwise to be transferred by mid-April latest.
The government on March 26 had announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore of relief package for the poor and vulnerable sections of the society. Under the PM Kisan scheme, launched in February 2019, each beneficiary farmer is entitled to get Rs 6,000 every year in three equal instalments as direct income support.
Over Rs 58,300 crore has been transferred into the bank accounts of 9.07 crore, 8.13 crore, 6.7 crore and 5.25 crore farmers (not mutually exclusive sets) as first, second, third and fourth instalments of PM-Kisan, respectively since the scheme was launched last year. Initially, the scheme was meant to cover only small and marginal farmers, but was later expanded for all land-owning farmers with some exclusion criteria.
The total number of farmers expected to be covered by the current scheme may be around 11 crore by the end of FY21. So far, the government has validated data of about 9.4 crore farmers. West Bengal, with an estimated over 70 lakh farmers, is the only state out of the ambit of PM-Kisan as it has refused to share and authenticate farmers’ data.
While the Budget estimate for the scheme for FY20 was Rs 75,000 crore, the revised estimate is Rs 54,370 crore. The outlay for FY21 is again Rs 75,000 crore.
Many of the land-owning migrant workers who have returned to their villages after the lockdown will also need this PM-Kisan benefit. The government should fix a target and transfer the amount within a week, said Pushpendra Singh, president of Kisan Shakti Sangh. The Centre, as an adhoc measure, should top up Rs 2,000 in this instalment immediately. The PM-Kisan benefit should also be raised to Rs 12,000/year by the Centre and additional equal contribution by states.
“Farmers need the support badly to meet the labour costs so that they undertake harvesting of rabi crops. When trading in mandis has stopped, there is no hope of selling their produce in near future. Even milk prices have dropped by 30% and many farmers are unable to sell their milk. So, the government’s financial support is crucial for the farmers,” said Singh and added that this would help generate rural demand.