In a bid to woo the farming community ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his Budget speech on Friday announced a Rs 6,000 per annum direct cash transfer for farmers owning land less than two hectares.
Called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, the much-anticipated move will benefit about 12 crore small and marginal farmers and will come into effect retrospectively from December 1, 2018, and the first instalment will be disbursed before the elections.
“The amount will be transferred directly to bank accounts of farmers in three equal installments. The programme will be funded 100 per cent by the Central government. Twelve crore farmer families will benefit. The first installment will be issued soon after preparing a list,” Goyal said.
The scheme will cost the government Rs 75,000 crore per year. Goyal said Rs 20,000 crore has been earmarked for this financial year. Besides the PMKSN scheme, Rs 60,000 crore has also been set aside for rural employment scheme MGNREGA.
There are 12.56 crore marginal and small farmers having less than 2 hectares (5 acre) holdings. If Rs 6,000 is paid to each farmer, the total outlay will be Rs 75,360 crore.
There were speculations that the government may announce a flat cash transfer to all identified beneficiaries similar to Odisha’s Kalia scheme or one based on a per-acre basis like Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu scheme.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi is a modification of the Rythu Bandhu scheme of the Telangana government, which provides assistance on a per-acre basis (Rs 8,000 per acre per year) without any holding size limit.