Bengal's farmers get only Rs 2,000 instead of Rs 18K each
KOLKATA: The Prime Minister released the eighth instalment of financial benefit under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme in a 1.08 hour-long virtual programme from 11 am on Friday in which Rs 19,000 crore were transferred to more than 9.5 crore farmers, including 7.03 lakh from Bengal.
However, deviating from his poll promise of releasing an arrear amount of Rs 18,000 to each beneficiary soon after the elections, Bengal's 7 lakh farmers received only the first instalment of a meagre amount of Rs 2,000 each.
The BJP-led Centre also drew flak from different quarters for not inviting Bengal to the PM-Kisan fund release programme and avoiding interaction with the beneficiaries from the state, which was given the benefit for the first time.
"On Friday, around 7 lakh farmers in the state have received only the first instalment that amounts to Rs 2,000 and that too was possible only because of the continuous efforts of the Chief Minister," said Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Saugata Roy.
The state Home department's tweet in this connection read: "Due to demand and actions of CM (Chief Minister) and GOWB (Government of West Bengal), 7 lakh farmers of West Bengal got their due entitlement, the first instalment of Kisan Samman Nidhi today (May 14) by direct transfer as per data submitted by State. State will fight for its farmers. It is clarified that West Bengal did not receive any invitation for the PM Kisan fund release programme today."
In connection to Bengal, the Prime Minister said: "Farmers of Bengal for the first time started receiving the benefits of PM-KISAN. Today lakhs of farmers of Bengal received the first instalment. Number of beneficiaries under the scheme will keep increasing according to the details of farmers the Centre will receive from the states."
The Prime Minister interacted with beneficiaries from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, Riwai in Meghalaya, Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and Andaman Nicobar during the fund release programme.
"Why did he not interact with a single beneficiary from Bengal? Are the farmers of Bengal remaining aloof from contributing to the country's requirement of food grains? Then why this step-motherly attitude?" asked Roy.
The central leadership of BJP had tried to make the people of Bengal believe that the farmers here had remained deprived of the benefits of the scheme due to the lack of cooperation by the state government.
However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had repeatedly stated that BJP's claim was baseless as her government had made all arrangements starting from verifying documents of applicants and uploading them on Centre's portals to appointing state nodal agency (SNA) and state nodal officer (SNO) for the same.
She had also informed about the state's preparedness in her letter dated September 9 in 2020 to the Union Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar and demanded the release of the fund at the earliest. She had also mentioned that "out of 21.79 lakh farmers who had registered for the scheme, 14.19 lakh data have been uploaded on the portal, which were duly verified and of which 9.84 lakh data are ready for PFMS".
With "no positive response" despite repeated letters, Banerjee wrote to the Prime Minister on May 6 — within 24 hours of taking oath as the Chief Minister for the third consecutive term – to release Rs 18,000 for each beneficiary in Bengal. Meanwhile, three BJP MLAs from farmers' families, including West Midnapore's Ghatal's BJP MLA, stated that it would be good if the farmers of Bengal had received Rs 18,000 each, including the arrear.
The beneficiaries of Bengal should have received Rs 2,000 each of seven instalments and an additional Rs 4,000 that was given in two instalments during the first wave of Covid.
The state government, on the other hand, has provided financial support under the Krishak Bandhu scheme since December 2018 and till date, it has disbursed Rs 1,498 crore to help 57.67 lakh farmers under the scheme while Rs 242 crore was disbursed to support family members after the demise of a farmer under the same initiative. Unlike PM-KISAN, all farmers (in Bengal) are covered under the Krishak Bandhu scheme as the Centre's scheme "has long exclusion list comprising of Bargadar or sharecroppers, persons giving self-declaration, serving or retired employees, income taxpayers, etc".