The government would start disbursing substantial amount under the income support scheme for small farmers in this month itself as beneficiary data is already in place, a top finance ministry official said. In his budget speech on Friday, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal announced ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’ (PM-KISAN) scheme under which Rs 6,000 per year would be provided to farmers holding cultivable land of up to 2 hectare.
Goyal has already earmarked Rs 20,000 crore for disbursal among 12 crore farmers under the scheme in the current financial year. “It has been decided to implement with effect from December 1, 2018. Allocation of Rs 20,000 crore required for the current fiscal has been made in the budget. Land record data is completely available. We have all the information about small and marginal farmers,” Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg told PTI in a post Budget interview.The government last year released Agriculture Census 2015-16 and most states have moved to electronic record-keeping, Garg said, adding, the work which the agriculture department now would be doing is to relate these holdings to the families which will receive the assistance.
“That they (agriculture department) will be doing. They are very confident that they will do with the state governments very soon and they expect to make disbursements of substantial amount in the month of February itself. That is the expectation and confidence of the (agri) department,” he said.
He further said, supplementaries would be presented in the current session to seek Parliament’s nod for spending additional Rs 20,000 crore for the scheme. The ongoing budget session is scheduled to conclude on February 13. The PM-KISAN scheme has been approved by the Cabinet and therefore the necessary approval for the administrative department to implement the scheme is also available, he added.
Emphasising that agriculture department has already done the spadework, Garg said the 12 crore beneficiary number has been arrived at with the help of Agriculture Census Data 2015-16. “The Census has detailed data which is divided into groups– people owning land up to 0.5 hectare, 0.5-1 hectare, 1-2 hectare, 2-4 hectare and beyond and every ‘Khesra’ of the plot of the land in the country has been counted. This is data of operational holdings,” he said.
Apart from direct income support to farmers, Goyal, in the interim budget for 2019-20, also announced extended interest subsidy on loans availed for animal husbandry and fishery as well as to those farmers affected by severe natural calamities. Consequently, the total budget allocation for agriculture and allied activities is projected higher at Rs 1,49,981 crore for 2019-20, when compared to the revised estimate of Rs 86,602 crore for 2018-19. The fertiliser subsidy is pegged at Rs 74,986 crore for the next fiscal as against Rs 70,075 crore.