A recent reply to RTI (Right to Information) query filed to the Union agriculture ministry revealed that the Centre has paid a humongous amount of INR 1,364 Crores to approximately 20 lakh individuals which are categorized as ‘undeserving’ and ‘ineligible’ for receiving the benefits of the designated scheme. It was found that the farmers who were the recipients were actually capable of being tax-paying farmers and did not fulfill the criteria for eligibility for the scheme.
PM-KISAN or Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi is a tribute fund initiative set up by the government of India to help the poor farmers and assist them financially. All the Indian farmers which have a total land holding not more than 2 hectares shall be provided Rs 6000 per annum via 3 equal installments which would be directly deposited in their bank accounts.
This initiative was introduced in FY 2019-20 by then Finance Minister Piyush Goyal who allotted a sum of Rs.75000 crore per year for the benefit of the farmers. It was formally launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an event in Gorakhpur, UP in February 2019.
RTI was filed by Venkatesh Nayak, Programme Coordinator to Access to Information Programme at Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said that the government’s record itself reflects that money went into wrong hands.
The data received under the RTI Act 2005 depicted that about 55% of the recipients belonged to the Income-tax paying category while the remaining 44% were ineligible farmers, meaning they did not meet the criteria for the scheme and were still awarded the benefits. Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, and Gujrat are the states which have the maximum cases of false beneficiaries of the scheme. Amongst these, Punjab reported the highest false beneficiaries, about 23% or 4.74 lakh individuals.
Assam reported 16.7% or 3.45 lakh false cases, followed by Maharashtra which had 13.9% or 2.86 lakh ineligible recipients of the scheme. Next in line are Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh which had about 8% or 1.64 lakh fallacious entries for the benefits. Sikkim, with just one untrue beneficiary, reported the lowest figure amongst all.
Ironically, to avoid this type of mishaps, the scheme clearly stated to exclude farmers that own institutional lands, relatives of government job holder or constitutional posts, current or retired Government employees, doctors, chartered accountants, engineers, or associated with Government autonomous bodies.