The major drawback in the scheme is its design, which has deprived farmers from reaping the benefits it promised
The ambitious PM-Kisan scheme, which was announced by then Finance Minister, Piyush Goyal on February 1, 2019, has kept out a large section of Indian farmers from its ambit after almost a year.
Under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’, Rs 6,000 per annum was to be given to all farmers except sharecroppers and income tax payees in three instalments.
The scheme was initiated after almost continuous zero farm income in 2017 and 2018. It paid rich dividends to incumbent Narendra Modi, who was able to wrest power again with a thumping majority
However, nothing much has changed in the daily lives of the farmers, who were the intended beneficiaries of the scheme. And the major reason is the way it is designed.
The scheme is divided into three instalments in three different periods of a year. It started with a retrospective clause of previous year. The three periods in a year are:
1 December to 31 March (first instalment)
1 April to 31 July (second instalment)
1 August to 30 November (third instalment)
In the first year of the scheme, if a farmer was registered during the first period, s/he would get all three instalments. If registration was during the second period, the farmer would receive two instalments — second and third. Farmers registered during the third period would get only the third instalment.
At the time of its launch, the government estimated it would target 12.5 crore farmers. However, data from the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MoAFW) shows that till October 2019, only 7.62 crore farmers were registered. Out of these, only 3.12 crore received all three instalments as they registered during the first period.
Meanwhile, 2.35 crore farmers registered during the second period and would thus get the second and third instalments. Around 2.15 crore farmers who registered in the third period, will receive only one instalment.
Officials believe that at least 1.5 crore farmers would be left unregistered in the first year of the scheme — at the completion of the current kharif season.
The discrepancies are in part because the government data tabulation method is not accurate. For instance, if a farmer gets his/her first instalment during the third period, government data will show it in the first instalment category.
Due to this, the number of first instalment beneficiaries on PM-KISAN website show a larger number in comparison to the other two instalments.
“Our data has differences in all three instalments because of the scheme’s design,” Rajesh Verma, additional secretary with MoAFW, who looks into the scheme’s implementation, said.
Many farmers submitted their application forms after the announcement of the scheme on February 1. But due to limitations in the government machinery, not all of them were registered in the first period.
“It is not the fault of the farmers. They submitted their application just after the scheme’s announcement. It is being delayed in the name of registration,” a senior agriculture officer based in Lucknow, said.
There were higher numbers of farmers registered during the first period of the scheme. It slowed down after the scheme was declared universal.
After announcing the scheme, the Union government waived off the Aadhar authentication process which helped state governments to speed up registration.
However, on the ground, officials have not followed this rule.
“There is no need of Aadhar authentication till November. But state government officials engaged in its implementation have mismanaged things,” a senior official involved in the matter, said.
“If the first instalment can be given to a major chunk of farmers without Aadhar authentication why not the second and third instalments?” he asked.
PM-KISAN Chief Executive Vivek Agarwal, however, boasted that he and his team achieved a lot during the first year.
“We started from scratch as we didn’t have the exact number of farmers. Hence, there were bound to be some operational problems. Still, we have directly transferred Rs 32,000 crore which no other scheme has been able to do in such a small period,” he claimed.
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