Cen­tre backs kcr’s farm sop, grants rs 6,000cr

The Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice helped the state gov­ern­ment get the re­quired per­mis­sion from the RBI to dis­trib­ute cash to farm­ers.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation - S. RAMA KR­ISHNA HY­DER­ABAD

The Cen­tre has backed K. Chan­drasekhar Rao led Te­lan­gana gov­ern­ment’s scheme to dis­trib­ute di­rect cash sup­port to farm­ers at the rate of Rs 4,000 per acre for kharif crop, and has supplied around Rs 6,000 crore to banks in Te­lan­gana this week. This is be­ing billed as the big­gest dis­bur­sal of cash in the coun­try since de­mon­eti­sa­tion of Novem­ber 2016.

CM KCR had lob­bied hard with the RBI for the last three months to get this much amount in the form of cash, but the cen­tral bank had re­fused to budge. How­ever, in­ter­ven­tion from the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice (PMO) and the Union agri­cul­ture min­istry helped the state gov­ern­ment to get the re­quired clear­ance. As this is the first of its kind scheme in the coun­try, in which ev­ery farmer will get cash ben­e­fit of Rs 8,000 per acre for per an­num (to be dis­trib­uted in two in­stal­ments for kharif and rabi crops), the Cen­tre has evinced much in­ter­est in it.

Te­lan­gana agri­cul­ture prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary C. Parthasarathi was called to New Delhi by the Union agri­cul­ture min­istry of­fi­cials in March and a fea­si­bil­ity study was been com­mis­sioned by the PMO to see if it can be ex­tended to the en­tire coun­try. “How­ever, the idea was dropped as there wasn’t enough time and sources to im­ple­ment it in the whole coun­try,” Parthasarathi told The Sun­day Guardian.

KCR’s gov­ern­ment has pro­vided for Rs 12,000 crore in the 2018-19 Bud­get for this cash sub­sidy, of­fi­cially called “Raithu Bandhu”, but the ac­tual prob­lem arose af­ter the state level bankers re­fused to dis­trib­ute such a huge amount in cash, due to re­stric­tions im­posed by the RBI.

The RBI top brass had ini­tially ex­pressed its in­abil­ity to pump in Rs 6,000 crore in cash within a span of one week to one state as this went against the Cen­tre’s prin­ci­ple to dis­cour­age cash trans­ac­tions and pro­mote dig­i­tal pay­ments. But fol­low­ing clear­ance from RBI, sep­a­rate cheques were printed for all the 56 lakh farm­ers in the state and the bankers were asked to give money at par.

CM KCR launched the scheme in Huzurabad on Thurs­day and all the min­is­ters and MLAs dis­trib­uted the cheques to thou­sands of farm­ers in their re­spec­tive ar­eas. The farm­ers were also is­sued newly de­signed pass­books to prove their ti­tle of the lands.

Sev­eral other states, in­clud­ing Ut­tar Pradesh, Kar­nataka and Bi­har, have evinced in­ter­est in this cash dis­tri­bu­tion to farm­ers at the rate of Rs 4,000 per acre and the Union agri­cul­ture min­istry too has asked all the states to study its im­pact in Te­lan­gana.

Te­lan­gana Fi­nance Min­is­ter Etela Ra­jen­der told this news­pa­per that the dis­tri­bu­tion of cash un­der Raithu Bandhi would con­tinue for an­other week or 10 days and he thanked the RBI for en­sur- ing that enough cash was sent to the banks. The gov­ern­ment plans to dis­trib­ute next in­stal­ment of cash—Rs 4,000 per acre—for rabi crop in Septem­ber. As many as 70% of farm­ers in Te­lan­gana own an av­er­age land­hold­ing of two acre and only less than 1% of them own more than 20 acre each.

Many agron­o­mists and agri­cul­ture spe­cial­ists have wel­comed this scheme, though they were not sure whether it would solve the agrar­ian cri­sis and end farm­ers’ sui­cides.

“We need to wait and see its im­pact,” said Dr Pidigam Saida­iah, Prof K. Jayashanker of Agri­cul­ture Univer­sity, among oth­ers.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties, how­ever, dubbed it as an elec­tion stunt by KCR and said that the cash dis­tri­bu­tion of Rs 4,000 per acre would not solve the cri­sis in agri­cul­ture sec­tor.

K. Chan­drasekhar Rao

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