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PM Narendra Modi to launch PM-KISAN in Gorakhpur on February 24

The cash-transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers ahead of a general elections, India’s first, is a major populist step by the Modi government to offset a challenging spell of rural crisis brought on by unprofitable sales of farm commodities.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2019 14:19 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
prime minister,narendra modi,PM-KISAN
PM Narendra Modi to launch PM-KISAN in Gorakhpur on February 24.(PTI)

On February 24, with the click of a mouse that will initiate millions of cash transfers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the government’s ambitious income-transfer scheme, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), at a farmers’ rally in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur, according to agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh.

The event will be streamed live in every block, an administrative zone within a district, of the country, Singh added.

At least 20 million small cultivators are likely to receive the first tranche of ~2,000 each directly into their accounts. The cash transfers will continue for several days after the launch, the minister said, as states continue to send farmers’ data to a centralised portal through which the money will be credited into savings accounts.

The cash-transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers ahead of a general elections, India’s first, is a major populist step by the Modi government to offset a challenging spell of rural crisis brought on by unprofitable sales of farm commodities.

The agriculture ministry is gearing up for a widely publicised event, with programmes being organised by Krishi Vigyan Kendras, a network of farm advisory centres in every district.

Agriculture minister Singh has written to state chief ministers, chief secretaries and top bureaucrats in charge of agriculture to organise functions just ahead of the PM’s launch. These countrywide programmes should be organised so that “farmers’ enthusiasm and confidence get a boost”, according to the letter reviewed by HT.

The scheme offers ~6,000 as an annual cash transfer to small and marginal farmers in three instalments of ~2,000 each. The scheme will go by land ownership on official records as on February 1, 2019. Of a total of 140 million land holdings in the country, 120 million, or 86%, are below two hectares; the owners of these land parcels will qualify for the cash transfer because they are counted as small and marginal farmers.

The agriculture ministry is working overtime to coordinate with states to ensure that more and more farmers’ data are verified and fed into a centralised portal that runs on a so-called “public finance management system”.

Each beneficiary household will be identified by states, and a farmers’ name, bank account and their savings account IFSC code — a unique 11-digit number, are necessary for online transfers.

The budget has allotted ~20,000 crore for the scheme during 2018-19, which is now held by the agriculture ministry, a government official said on condition of anonymity. On validation of farmers’ data by banks, the amounts will get transferred after automatic instruction to banks. The allocation in 2019-2020 is ~75,000 crore.

The actual number of beneficiaries who will get the money on February 24 may vary because banks are continuously scanning and detecting anomalies, such as improper account details.

For instance, on February 18, details of nearly five million farmers sent by states were fed into the PM-KISAN portal. Of this, bank details of 0.8 million were found to be incorrect. On February 19, details of another 6 million farmers’ were received, of which 1 million were faulty. “Farmers whose details are incorrect will receive their instalments after correction of these details,” the official said.

First Published: Feb 22, 2019 14:19 IST