New Delhi: As many as 10 lakh farmers in West Bengal, who have registered under the PM-KISAN scheme, have been deprived of the benefits due to the Mamata Banerjee government’s “refusal” to implement it in the state, said Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar at a press conference Monday.
Tomar launched the PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) app Monday in the national capital to mark the one year completion of the scheme.
Under the scheme, launched in February last year, the government provides the farmers with a cash transfer of Rs 6,000 a year.
Tomar stressed on the implementation of the scheme in West Bengal and said he had written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee twice to push for the implementation of the scheme in her state, but hasn’t received a reply yet.
Vivek Agarwal, joint secretary, Agriculture Ministry, and CEO of PM-KISAN, who was also at the press meet, said West Bengal has a potential beneficiary of 70 lakh farmers, but none of them are receiving the benefits of this scheme.
As many as 10 lakh of the 70 lakh eligible farmers from West Bengal, who have registered for the scheme since September 2019 via the self-registration portal, are waiting for the state government to verify their data so that they can get the cash benefit, he added.
Once a farmer registers via the self-registration portal, it is the state government’s duty to verify the credentials of the farmer and then send it to the central government. Following this, funds are disbursed under the scheme.
“West Bengal will receive benefits worth around Rs 4,000 crore via these farmers if PM-KISAN is implemented,” said minister Tomar.
He also added that the cash benefits under the scheme will not only help the state’s farmers but also boost the state’s economy.
Talking about the figures across the country, Tomar said: “In total, 77 lakh farmers across the country have registered under PM-KISAN scheme through the self-registration portal opened in September last year.”
Bihar continues to lag behind in PM-KISAN
Bihar continues to lag behind other states in terms of the percentage of farmers who have enrolled under PM-KISAN.
Bihar has a potential beneficiary count of 158 lakh farmers and of this, only 59.7 lakh have been receiving benefits so far, said Agarwal.
On this, Agarwal told ThePrint: “The state has a typical beneficiary application-based manual approach rather than the data-driven correlation method adopted by other states in the country, which is responsible for the delay in identification and upload of beneficiary data from Bihar.”
Bihar and West Bengal have a combined potential of adding 2.13 crore farmers under this scheme.
Bihar has been pulled up earlier by the central government with regard to speeding up the farmer registration process under PM-KISAN.
As reported by ThePrint in October 2019, just 26 per cent of the farmers had registered under PM-KISAN.
The state saw the disbursal of the first installment under PM-KISAN to 35 lakh farmers, which declined to 27 lakh and 5 lakh for the second and third installments, respectively.
Agarwal, meanwhile, said states like Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim are also struggling to authenticate their farmers’ data.
Aadhaar verification of 96 lakh farmers pending
Minister Tomar said of the 14 crore eligible farmers in the country, only 9.74 crore farmers have registered under the scheme so far since its launch.
Of this, only 8.45 crore farmers have been paid, he said.
Aadhaar cards of around 96 lakh farmers are still lying unverified between the central and the state governments due to which they haven’t yet received the cash benefits, Agarwal said at the press conference.
Minister Tomar, meanwhile, said the government has reduced the number of beneficiaries under PM-KISAN — from 14 crore to 11.97 crore.
Tomar also informed the government will begin the process of setting up of 10,000 Farmer Produce Organisations (FPOs) from 29 February.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had, in her Budget speech last year, proposed the setting up of 10,000 new FPOs in the next five years.
An amount of Rs 15 lakh will be provided for setting up of each FPO to be operated by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and National Cooperative Development Corporation, said Tomar.