On two ends of spectrum, farmers term dole scheme a cruel jokehttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/on-two-ends-of-spectrum-farmers-term-dole-scheme-a-cruel-joke-5566676/

On two ends of spectrum, farmers term dole scheme a cruel joke

The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme has been made applicable from the current fiscal itself, and the first of the three installments of Rs 2,000 each will be transferred directly into the bank account of farmers before March.

On two ends of spectrum, farmers term dole scheme a cruel joke
A farmer in his field in Ludhiana. Gurmeet Singh

To woo distressed farmers ahead of general elections this year, the Centre Friday announced a direct income support of Rs 6,000 per year to those holding cultivable land up to two hectare, claiming that the move would benefit 12 crore farmers. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme has been made applicable from the current fiscal itself, and the first of the three installments of Rs 2,000 each will be transferred directly into the bank account of farmers before March.

The Indian Express talked to two farmers — one who is likely to benefit from the scheme and the other who won’t and both reacted on similar lines.

Harjinder Singh, a marginal farmer, who owns 1.2 acre land and is likely to be a beneficiary under the scheme, termed PM-KISAN as a “big cruel joke” being played by the Modi government on the poor and debt-ridden farmers of the country.  “I want to ask (Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji what kind of support is he offering to a debt ridden farmer by providing him Rs 16 to 17 a day under this scheme,” asked Harjinder Singh, a resident of Kapurthala district’s Kesarpur village.

The farmer said that the government in his state was better than that at the Centre as it “waived loans upto Rs 2 lakh of every small and marginal farmer and is also providing free power and water to them for
agriculture”.

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Punjab is ruled by the Congress government. Soon after assuming power, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had implemented farm loan waiver, a promise that the Congress had made in its poll manifesto.

“I had Rs 7-lakh loan out of which Rs 1.73 lakh that I owed to the cooperative society, has been waived by the state government. I still have a huge amount of loan that I took from Punjab Gramin Bank pending. Had Modi government desired, it could have supported farmers like me by writing off the loan amount equal to the waiver given by the Punjab government,” Harjinder Singh said, adding he was paying Rs 50,000 interest every year. “Tell me how will Rs 6,000 help me,” the 58-year-old asked.

To meet his family’s needs, Harjinder Singh has taken six acres on lease at the rate of Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 per acre per year. He is also rearing some cattle. “I could not repay the principal amount of my loan even after taking the land on lease,” he added.

On the other side of the farming spectrum is 43-year-old Jagdeep Singh who is currently farming on 39 acres, including 10 of his own. The latest scheme by the central government, he said, has “sprinkled salt on the wounds of small and marginal farmers” who are reeling under huge debt. “Union government should have waived the loans of the small and marginal farmers and could have made some arrangements to save the farmers from the debt trap in future,” Jagdeep Singh said.

Jagdeep harvests wheat, paddy and potato on 39 acres in Sangrur’s Kanoi village. “The government has shown its insensitive side to the farmers who feed the country. The least it could have done was to provide better rates for farmers’ produce,” he added.