Union Budget 2019: Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar had recently informed the Lok Sabha that 3.33 crore farmers' families have received the first instalment of Rs 2,000 each under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM Kisan) scheme, while 2.89 crore beneficiaries had received the second installment.
The scheme, announced in the Interim Budget in February, initially aimed to provide Rs 6,000 per year in installments to an estimated 12.5 crore small and marginal farmers holding land up to 2 hectares to help with expenses related to agriculture and allied activities as well as domestic needs. But a day after the Modi 2.0 government took oath of office, the cabinet notified a decision to extend the benefit to all 14.5 crore farmers in the country, irrespective of the size of their landholding.
According to government data, Uttar Pradesh boasts the highest number of total beneficiaries at 1.20 crore (combining both installments). That's more than three times the number of recipient families in Andhra Pradesh, which ranks second among the Top 5 states in terms of beneficiaries. The state had 34.92 lakh beneficiaries as of June 25. The next three biggies on the list are Maharashtra (31.75 lakh beneficiaries), Gujarat (29.80 lakh) and Rajasthan (28.26 lakh).
On the other hand, Madhya Pradesh with just 12,888 total beneficiaries to date - lower than much smaller states like Tripura, Manipur, Assam and Himachal Pradesh - raises eyebrows. After all, agrarian distress in the state had cost the BJP big time in the assembly polls. Although it admittedly was a late-entrant to the scheme, Rajasthan, another Congress-ruled state, has played the catch-up game far better. Meanwhile, West Bengal under the Trinamool Congress continues to shun PM- Kisan. The farmers of Delhi and Lakshadweep are yet to benefit from the scheme, too.
According to a June 25 statement by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, the government shelled out close to Rs 6,663 crore in the first installment and over Rs 5,791 crore in the second tranche. Not surprisingly, Uttar Pradesh has cornered over 35 per cent of the total pie. The second biggest beneficiary, Andhra Pradesh, is far behind with just 10 per cent of the total allocation so far.
The expanded PM Kisan scheme is expected to cost Rs 87,217.50 crore a year to the exchequer, up from the previous estimate of Rs 75,000 crore when land holding were capped at 2 hectares. The buzz is that the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman may announce an allocation to the scheme in her maiden budget and that will add to her challenge of a balancing act between making India happy and fiscally prudent.