The state government would not change its Rythu Bandhu plan and implement the PM-Kisan scheme separately.


Hyderabad: Telangana farmers who own up to five acres of land are the luckiest among their ilk in the country as they will be getting Rs 16,000 per year this year. The K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCAR) led TRS government in Telangana has decided to pass on the full benefits of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme to the small and marginal farmers this year.

PM-Kisan, which was announced by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his interim budget in the Parliament on Friday, extends Rs 6,000 per annum to the farmers owning up to 2.5 hectares or five acres in three equal installments, beginning the current financial year. Of the 12 crore farmers estimated to benefit under the scheme, Telangana accounts for about 47.08 lakh families.

The KCR government has been implementing the Rythu Bandhu scheme since last year, in which all the land owning farmers were paid Rs 8,000 per acre per annum in two equal installments, without any upper limit. TRS, in its election manifesto in the recent Assembly elections, promised to raise the amount to Rs 10,000 per year.

Immediately after the budget was presented in the Lok Sabha, the CM closeted with senior officials in the agriculture and finance departments and reviewed the implementation of the scheme in the state. Senior officials who were present there told this newspaper that the state government wouldn’t change its Rythu Bandhu scheme and the PM-Kisan scheme would be implemented separately.

If that is the case, the farmers who own up to five acres of land would get both Rythu Bandhu and PM Kisan amounts—a total Rs 16,000 per year from this year onwards. In this way, the problems of small and marginal farmers who are steeped in financial problems would be solved to a large extent, according to the agriculture department officials.

Telangana Rythu Samanvaya Samithi (TRSS) and TRS MP Gutta Sukhender Reddy told this newspaper that the CM was keen on passing the full benefit of the Centre’s scheme on to farmers without mixing it with its Rythu Bandhu. “This is a good step in view of the debt and other financial problems of small farmers,” said Reddy. TRSS is a newly created body sponsored by the government.

Agriculture officials have estimated that Telangana would get Rs 2,830 crore under the PM-Kisan scheme this year and Rs 950 crore in the first installment in this financial year. There are around 58 lakh farmers with land ownership in Telangana and of them, 85 per cent, around 47 lakh own land holdings below five acres.

Among them, 14.85 lakh farmers own up to one acre, 13.35 lakh from one to two acres, 9 lakh from two to three acres, 5.75 lakh from three to four acres and 4.13 lakh farmers own lands from four to five acres. So, only 11 lakh farmers who own land holdings above five acres will not be eligible for the PM-Kisan scheme, but get money under the Rythu Bandhu scheme.

At one stage, officials have toyed with the idea of mixing both the schemes and offering them in one single package—the highest of the two—Rs 10,000 per acre—to the farmers. In such a case, the Telangana government would have lessened its total burden of Rs 12,000 crore for the coming year by Rs 2,800 crore.

But KCR is learnt to have shot it down on the ground that it would give a scope for criticism from the BJP leaders that the Rythu Bandhu scheme was funded by the Centre and that Central funds were used for a TRS government scheme. “The CM wants to give no room for any politicisation of the Rythu Bandhu scheme which is his brainchild,” Reddy said. This is the situation at least till the Lok Sabha elections.

The TRS government would present its budget to the Assembly which would meet in the last week of February. Officials are working out the actual amount of funds to be allocated to the Rythu Bandhu scheme for the coming year, 2019-20. There are chances that the scheme might be altered only in future, but not in the coming year, as Lok Sabha elections are around.

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