Governance

Bihar starts physical verification of over 300,000 PM-Kisan beneficiaries

The move came after officials were informed that many undeserving candidates were availing the benefits

 
By C K Manoj
Published: Tuesday 09 February 2021
Bihar conducting physical verification of 3.28 lakh PMKSNY beneficiaries

The agriculture department in Bihar is conducting physical verification of 328,000 farmers availing benefits of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PMKSNY) in the state. The move came after officials were informed that many undeserving candidates were availing the benefits.  

Under the scheme, small and marginal farmer families with combined land holding or ownership of up to two hectares receive Rs 6,000 per year in three instalments from the Centre. 

“We have been informed some undeserving individuals have been availing benefits of the scheme. In many cases, both husbands and wives were found enjoying the benefits. People filing IT returns too are getting the benefits. But now, we are physically verifying the beneficiaries,” said Rakesh Ranjan, district agriculture officer, Patna. The number of such beneficiaries in Patna is 1,800.

Many farmers might have received the benefit in the absence of proper information, added Ranjan. “As per the rule, the farmers filing IT returns even after getting compensation for their land acquired for development projects are not entitled for this benefit,” he said.

District agriculture officers have been entrusted with the verification process, said Sarjeev Kumar, in-charge nodal officer of direct benefit transfer programme. 

Kumar said the government was also recovering money from farmers who availed the benefits despite being income tax payers. “We are acting against such farmers on the basis of the list provided by the Centre. They have been told to deposit the money in a particular bank account issued by the agriculture department,” Kumar said. 

According to agriculture department officials, the number of undeserving farmers who availed the benefits of PM-Kisan is some 36,820. The department is to recover Rs 32.74 crore from such beneficiaries. The government has also announced it will initiate punitive actions against the farmers failing to return the money to the government.

District Agriculture Officer, Kaimur, Lalita Prasad said many persons filing IT returns had been getting benefits of this scheme. “We have received a list of 567 such doubtful beneficiaries and are verifying their status,” Prasad said.

Manoj Kumar, a farmer from Motihari, said all farmers should not be blamed for submitting fake identification papers for availing benefits and put the blame on the government for this.

“The farmers applied for these benefits online while it was up to the government to verify the applicants to know if they are genuine. Many farmers were also not aware as to whether they are eligible for the benefits or not,” Kumar said.

He said such farmers who got the benefits in the past are now returning the money after being intimated by the government. “Several farmers have got the notice for recovery and they are returning the money,” he said.

Another farmer, Kishore Jaiswal, said many well-to-do farmers had been availing benefits of this scheme. He, however, attributed it to the fact that the government didn’t verify the details or initiate follow-up actions.

The scheme was implemented in Bihar on December 1, 2018 to support poor farmer families. As per an official report, some six million farmers from the state are currently availing benefits of this scheme while the number of farmer families in the state is 16.5 million which means a huge number of farmers are still out of purview of this scheme.

Under PM-Kisan scheme, the government has made it clear that institutional land holders and certain categories of farmer families can’t avail the benefits. The categories who are not eligible for the benefits are:

  • Former and present holders of constitutional posts
  • Serving or retired officers and employees of Central and state government ministries, offices or departments and its field units, Central or state PSEs and attached offices or autonomous institutions under government as well as regular employees of the local bodies
  • All superannuated or retired pensioners whose monthly pension is Rs 10,000 or more
  • Persons who paid income tax in the last assessment year
  • Professionals like doctors, engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants and architects registered with professional bodies and carrying out profession by undertaking practices

In a fresh development, the government has made it mandatory for the farmers to do mutation of their land in their name. However, this will not affect the old beneficiaries but the new applicants will have to mention plot numbers of their land to get the benefits. The scheme has been in force in Bihar for the past three years. 

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