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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Government forms panel to decide criteria for N-E beneficiaries

The government has formed a three-member ministerial group to decide on the criteria for identifying beneficiaries from northeastern hill states for PM-KISAN, the cash-transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers, according to an official.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2019 23:50 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Image for representation.
Image for representation.(Hindustan Times file photo)
         

The government has formed a three-member ministerial group to decide on the criteria for identifying beneficiaries from northeastern hill states for PM-KISAN, the cash-transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers, according to an official.

In some parts of the north-east, land assets are typically community-held, rather than individually owned, making the process of identifying small cultivators rather complex and different from the rest of the country.

Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar and minister for development of the northeastern region Jitendra Singh make the panel.

PM-KISAN, which offers direct income support of ~6,000 a year in three tranches, is meant for farmers counted as small and marginal farmers, whose individually owned farm size is limited to 2 hectares. To be included in the scheme, individual ownership (of only up to 2 hectares) or at least some verifiable authentication of the share of an individual in village farm land is required.

In tribal-dominated hill districts of northeastern states, such as Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, the land-tenure system is quite different and much of the cultivated land in these states are held by village councils under customary laws.

“The government has accepted a proposal from Manipur government to decide the criteria for inclusion in the PM-KISAN scheme after due consideration by the ministerial panel,” the official cited above said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In Manipur, although land ownership rights are ultimately community held, farmers are given their individual shares according to customary laws and inter-generational transfers. The Manipur government has proposed that such shares would be authenticated and validated by revenue department based on certificates issued by village chiefs. The Centre has approved this model, the official said. The Manipur model is likely to be adopted as a template for the rest of the northeastern states with a similar land-tenure system.

Parts of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya as well as the hill districts of Assam, Tripura and Manipur account for a significant part of the agricultural economy of the region. In these areas, which follow a “commons” model, individuals often don’t have transferable property rights on land.

According to economist AK Agarwal, author of Economic Problems and Planning in North-East India, land has been “communally held” and the “usufructuary right” to land is traditionally distributed in step with customary norms by the village council or the village chief. Community ownership of land is predominant in areas of shifting cultivation. Individual ownership of land is usually transferable within the tribal community.

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 23:50 IST