Rs 1,364cr of PM Kisan dole in wrong hands
The Centre has paid Rs 1,364 crore to 20.48 lakh undeserving beneficiaries under its income support scheme for small and marginal farmers, the Union agriculture ministry has revealed in answer to a Right to Information query.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, launched in 2019, a sum of Rs 2,000 is paid every four months to farmers whose families have a combined landholding or ownership of up to 2 hectares. The scheme has a few exclusion criteria, based mainly on socio-economic status.
In response to the RTI application, the agriculture ministry identified two categories of undeserving beneficiaries: “ineligible farmers” and “income-tax-payee farmers”.
“More than half (55.58 per cent) of these undeserving persons belong to the ‘income-tax-payee’ category,” said Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the RTI applicant who has obtained the data from the ministry.
“The remaining 44.41 per cent belong to the ‘ineligible farmers’ category.”
Nayak said that according to media reports, proceedings had been started to recover the money transferred to undeserving people.
He said the data indicated that Rs 1,364.13 crore had been paid to undeserving people from the beginning of the scheme till July 31, 2020.
“The government’s own data indicates the money went into the wrong hands,” he said.
A sizeable proportion of the ineligible beneficiaries belong to five states — Punjab, Assam, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh — according to the data, Nayak said.
“Punjab tops the list, accounting for 23.16 per cent (4.74 lakh) of the undeserving persons who received payouts, followed by Assam with 16.87 per cent (3.45 lakh beneficiaries) and Maharashtra with 13.99 per cent (2.87 lakh),” he said.
Gujarat is fourth with 8.05 per cent (1.65 lakh) of the beneficiaries, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 8.01 per cent (1.64 lakh), he said.
Among the categories of farmers excluded from the scheme are institutional landholders, former and present holders of constitutional posts, former and present ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLCs, mayors and district panchayat chairmen, serving and retired government employees, those receiving monthly pensions above Rs 10,000, income-tax payees and professionals such as doctors, engineers and chartered accountants.