All India Kisan Sabha says the income support model is only helpful when it is supported by loan waiver.

 

NEW DELHI: The possibility of the Centre coming up with a nationwide direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme to help farmers in distress, as opposed to loan waiver, does not seem to have gone down well with some farmers’ organisations like the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS).

The AIKS has already started protests against the income support model in place of granting a full-fledged loan waiver. Dr Ashok Dhawale, president of AIKS and a Central Committee member of the CPI(M), told The Sunday Guardian: “The income support model or any such policy is only helpful when it is supported by loan waiver. If the Central government is not waiving the existing loan and just coming up with a policy that promises to give a certain amount for a certain period, it will be a waste of money. The money given to farmers under the income support model will go to the bank again as the installment for loan repayment or for their medical treatment.”

In Telangana, the “Rythu Bandhu” programme is being implemented by the K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) led TRS government since June 2018. Under this programme, the state government gives every farmer an assistance of Rs 8,000 per acre in a year in two instalments (Kharif and Rabi crops). In Jharkhand, the state government gives its farmers Rs 5,000 per acre per year (maximum Rs 25,000) as income support. “Unlike the concept of universal basic income, what Telangana and Jharkhand offer do not go to everyone and proves beneficial only for big farmers. The income support or direct transfer of income won’t help a majority of farmers, especially those who are farm labourers rather than land holders,” Dhawale added.

“The Centre has not done anything for farmers or workers in the past four years and that has resulted in the defeat of the BJP in Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. We have several basic demands which the BJP government has been ignoring. We want the Centre to implement the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee for fixing minimum support price (MSP), pension of Rs 5,000 for all farmers over the age of 60 years, discontinuation of forced acquisition of land from farmers, and announcement of a clear loan waiver policy,” Dhawale added.

However, a senior official with the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, told The Sunday Guardian: “The Centre is mulling to launch an income support policy for farmers. A similar policy was launched by the BJP-led Jharkhand government and has helped farmers in increasing income and reducing the higher burden of loans.”

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