By Prabhudatta Mishra
The Odisha government will start disbursing Rs 5,000/family to the bank accounts of small and marginal farmers starting January 25 for the 2018-19 rabi (winter) crop season under its newly-launched Kalia scheme. The sowing of the rabi crop is almost complete in the state.
Odisha is the second state in the country to implement such a scheme, after pioneer Telangana that has been implementing an income support scheme for farmers called Rythu Bandhu since May 2018. The Centre is reportedly considering an income support scheme (which may be announced in the interim Budget to be presented on February 1), while two other states —Jharkhand and West Bengal — have already announced their intent to launch similar schemes to address the distress in the farm sector.
According to sources, Odisha’s decision to start release of Kalia funds at the fag end of the rabi sowing period, instead of waiting for the next kharif season, is in view of the possible Election Commission curbs on such largesse once the polls are announced. The state’s assembly election is slated for May along with the Lok Sabha election.
“We will transfer the amount (Rs 5,000) to bank accounts of 10-13 lakh families on January 25 at the state-level farmers’ convention in Puri,” said Krishan Kumar, secretary-cooperation with the Odisha government. The Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (Kalia) scheme comprises three components: a) Rs 5,000/family per crop season to over 30 lakh small and marginal farmers having less than 5 acres of land, b) Rs 12,500/family per year to 10 lakh landless agriculture labourers and c) Rs 10,000/family to 5 lakh ‘vulnerable’ farmers every year.
The guidelines for the first component — support to cultivation — has been finalised while the other two components meant for landless and vulnerable farmers may be rolled out next fiscal, Kumar said. Though the state government has targeted to cover 30.18 lakh small and marginal farmers, as many as 60 lakh farmers have applied for enrollment under the Kalia scheme. The cost for the whole scheme has been estimated at Rs 10,180 crore in five seasons starting rabi 2018-19. Of this, the support to cultivators alone will entail an expenditure of `7,540 crore during the five seasons.
“We had first displayed a draft list of beneficiaries based on data available with multiple agencies at each panchayat and distributed the ‘green’ and ‘red’ forms to the people. The green form was to be filled by those whose names did not figure in the list while the red form was an objection/complaint against inclusion of any name,” Kumar said. Since Odisha does not have a foolproof database of land records like Telangana, the state government is collating data from various schemes like the Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana, revenue department and paddy procurement.
While Telangana is giving Rs 4,000/acre each season to all land-owing farmers, Odisha has restricted it to Rs 5,000/family as it has also announced scheme for landless farmers.
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Telangana had paid Rs 5,256 crore to about 51 lakh farmers during kharif 2018 under the Rythu Bandhu for purchase of inputs like seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and labour costs. During the rabi 2018 season, the Election Commission had asked the state government to directly transfer the amount to farmers’ bank accounts without any publicity.