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Government kicks off exercise to check discrepancies in PM-Kisan

FE Bureau
PM-Kisan scheme, PM-Kisan beneficiaries,  agriculture ministry, NDA government, Aadhaar number, Uttar Pradesh

The agriculture ministry has started an exercise to verify 5% of the PM-Kisan beneficiaries through random selection to rule out any discrepancy in cash transfer in direct income support scheme. This has been necessitated after the number of farmers who got the benefit in Punjab exceeded the estimated number eligible for the scheme. Overall, 6.3 crore, 3.82 crore and 7.15 lakh farmers (not mutually exclusive sets) have received the first, second and third instalments of Rs 2,000 each, respectively, since the inception of the scheme.

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The government has disbursed over Rs 20,000 crore under PM-Kisan so far. “Villages will be selected randomly in a state and the total number of farmers in all villages will not exceed 5% of the estimated beneficiaries in that state,” a government official said. States have been asked to complete the verification by mid-October, the official added.

Currently, the government has prescribed three stages of verification of farmers’ data which are also authenticated by the states before the PM-Kisan instalment is transferred into their bank accounts.

The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme was announced by the then finance minister Piyush Goyal during his Interim Budget speech in February. Initially, the target was to cover 12 crore small and marginal farmers (owning up to 2 hectares of land), with each getting Rs 6,000 in a year in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000 each. But after returning to power in May, the NDA government approved inclusion of an additional two crore farmers under the scheme. Estimated to cost Rs 75,000 crore annually, it took retrospective effect from December 1, 2018.

In the first four months period of disbursal —December-March (2018-19) — Aadhaar number was not mandatory while in the second period (April-July) it was made compulsory to get access to the benefit. Now, the government has made verification of Aadhaar-linked bank accounts compulsory for the August-November period.

In Punjab, as many as 14.33 lakh farmers have received first instalment as of August 28, of which11.45 lakh got the second tranche. According to the agri-census data, the Centre had estimated the number of eligible beneficiaries (after the exclusion criteria) in Punjab at 10.81 lakh. In Uttar Pradesh, 1.56 crore and 1.08 crore have received the first and second instalment, respectively. With 2.34 crore farmers identified in UP to get the PM-Kisan benefit, the state has nearly 34 lakh data rejected, the highest in the country.