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Poll-bound Modi Govt bets big on the farmer

PM Kisan Samman Nidhi to be applied from this fiscal itself; Govt to give distressed farmers Rs 6,000 a year in 3 installments to buy inputs

Poll-bound Modi Govt bets big on the farmer

New Delhi: In a move that may be aimed at thwarting Congress president Rahul Gandhi's promise to implement minimum income for poor, the government on Friday announced to provide assured income support to small and marginal farmers.

While presenting his first interim budget, Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said, "The government has approved Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman (PM-KISAN) scheme for the assured income support to the farmers. The scheme would be implemented with retrospective effect from December 2018."

"Under this scheme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs 6,000 per year. This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000 each," Goyal said while presenting the interim budget.

While talking to Millennium Post after the budget presentation, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh asserted that the last five budgets of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been dedicated to the farmers and the government's sixth budget is also for the empowerment of farmers.

"The announcements in the budget are enough to believe that we are totally committed to farmers' welfare in a holistic way. It's a fact that previous governments, which were led by Congress, have totally ignored farmers," Singh said, adding that the decision would help in increasing the income of farmers.

As per the agriculture minister, the PM-KISAN programme would be a centrally-funded scheme and around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit from it. The scheme would be made effective from December 1, 2018, and the first installment for the period upto March 31, 2019, would be paid during this year itself, he said.

"The scheme would entail an annual expenditure of Rs 75,000 crore and it would not only provide assured supplemental income to the most vulnerable farmer families but would also meet their emergent needs especially before the harvest season," Singh said, adding that the PM-KISAN would pave the way for the farmers to earn and live a respectable living.

Commenting on the scheme, noted corpoarte expert Anil Rajput said, "It would help in the growth of the rural economy as the purchasing power of people in living in rural areas would get a boost. Since the beneficiary farmers would get an additional income of Rs 6,000 each year, it would propel economic activities in rural areas. When people have more money, their spending powers also get increased."

Hailing the scheme, celebrated economist, Swaminathan Iyer said that the farmer income support scheme looks modest and it's less than what's already operational in Odisha and Telangana. The scheme is fiscally difficult but manageable, he said.

Commenting on the decision, Ganesh Nanote, a Vidarbha region farmer, said, "It's a great move to give a push to the farming community. Farmers have always been neglected. This small step would let all marginal farmers have a dignified life."

Regarding animal husbandry, the Finance Minister said, "I have increased the allocation for Rashtriya Gokul Mission to Rs 750 crore in the current year itself. I announce setting up of "Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog" to upscale sustainable genetic upgradation of cow resources and to enhance production and productivity of cows. The Aayog will also look after effective implementation of laws and welfare schemes for cows."

On crops loans, Goyal said, "The Modi government has now decided that all farmers affected by severe natural calamities, where assistance is provided from National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), will be provided with the benefit of interest subvention of 2 per cent and prompt repayment incentive of 3 per cent for the entire period of reschedulement of their loans."

Dhirendra Kumar

Dhirendra Kumar

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