PM Kisan, one of the world’s largest welfare schemes with a targeted beneficiary strength of 140 million, seems to be running well behind schedule, going by data on the disbursement of funds.
The scheme was started on Dec 1 2018, and has so far enrolled only around 7 cr (70 million) farmers against the target of 14 cr.
Part of the reason is the multiple levels of screening and verification involved in selected the beneficiaries.
The latest disbursement data provide further evidence that the scheme is not scaling as expected.
For example, the government set apart Rs 20,000 cr for disbursal under the PM-Kisan scheme for the months of December to March, but the actual disbursement was only Rs 6,005 cr.
Even within this 6,000 cr, 2,222 cr was disbursed to farmers in just one state – Uttar Pradesh. Just three states — Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh — accounted for more than 57% (Rs 3,432 cr) of the total disbursal. On the other extreme was Karnataka, where farmers got only Rs 3.9 cr during those four months from PM Kisan scheme.
Part of the reason may have been politics.
The PM Kisan scheme was considered a pre-poll sop announced by the center designed to increase the ruling BJP government’s appeal among the small farmers and their dependents. As such, states like Karnataka have been less than enthusiastic about implementing it ahead of the elections in April/May.
“The onus lies with the State/UTs Governments to identify the beneficiaries and upload their details thereof on PM-KISAN portal,” said Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
However, the pace of additions have picked up in the current financial year, though they are nowhere near the numbers that were projected at the beginning.
The government set apart Rs 75,000 cr for disbursal this year. However, with almost 9 months gone, only 29,877 cr has been disbursed yet.
On a positive note, the regional imbalances in the disbursal have largely disappeared.
Even though Uttar Pradesh still accounts for 22.6% of the total money sent to farmers during the current financial year so far, states like Karnataka have also started getting their act together.
The southern state accounted for 1,695 cr, or about 5.7%, of the total disbursal under the scheme this year.
Maharashtra was at No.2 with 2,736 cr, while Congress-ruled Rajasthan was at No.3 with Rs 2,269 cr.
Though called PM Kisan, it is largely meant as a sort of income guarantee scheme for anyone with even a small plot of land.
As long as the applicant has a piece of land and has not paid income tax nor received pension or salary from the government or a government organization, he or she can expect to get Rs 6,000 per year in the form of agricultural pension under the scheme.
Eager to increase enrollments, the government even removed the 5-acre upper limit on the size of the landholding for beneficiaries under this scheme, in June this year.
Tomar, however, said applications can be rejected even at the level of the bank, if the submitted data fails to match with what the banks have on their records.
To improve the pace of sign ups, the government has now allowed ‘farmers’ to apply directly for inclusion in PM-Kisan by visiting any Common Service Center — a kind of e-kiosk established under an earlier e-governance initiative by the government.
They can also register online on the project website by submitting their Aadhaar number, bank account number and mobile number.