February 1, 2021 3:47:46 pm
Presenting the Union Budget amid the ongoing protests against the three new farm laws, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Monday said the government is committed to the farmers’ welfare amid sloganeering from the Opposition benches to repeal the contentious laws.
Sitharaman said the MSP regime has undergone a “sea change” to assure price at least 1.5 times of production cost.
“The procurement has also continued to increase at a steady pace. This has resulted in an increase in payment to farmers substantially,” she said.
Giving details of the rise in MSP-based procurement, the Finance Minister said, “In case of wheat, the total amount paid to farmers in 2013-14 was Rs 33,874 crore. In 2019-20, it was Rs 62,802 crore.”
In 2020-21, she said the amount paid to farmers was over Rs 75,000 crore.
“The number of wheat growing farmers that were benefited increased in 2020-21 to 43.36 lakh compared to 35.57 lakh in 2019-20. That much of an increase within one year,” Sitharaman said.
For paddy, Sitharaman said the amount paid in 2013-14 was Rs 63,928 crore and it increased to Rs 1,41,930 crore in 2019-20. The Finance Minister said it is further estimated to increase to Rs 1,72,752 crore in 2020-21.
The number of beneficiaries increased from 1.2 crore in 2019-20 to 1.54 crore in 2020-21.
For pulses, Sitharaman said Rs 236 crore was paid to farmers in 2013-14. “In 2019-20, this was increased to Rs 8,285 crore. Now in 2020-21, it is at Rs 10,530 crore, more than 40 times increase from 2013-14,” she said.
Similarly, Rs 90 crore was paid in 2013-14 to cotton farmers while Rs 25,974 crore has been paid in 2020-21 as of January 27.
Meanwhile, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme witnessed a Rs 10,000-crore cut in allocation. PM-Kisan’s budget has been reduced from Rs 75,000 crore in BE 2020-21 to Rs 65,000 crore in RE 2020-21, including for the next fiscal.
Another scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana, saw a cut in allocation. The scheme’s budget has been reduced from Rs 1,081 crore in BE 2020-21 to Rs 750 crore RE 2020-21 and Rs 700 crore in BE 2021-22.
Opposition protests against farm laws
As the minister started highlighting the government’s initiatives and achievements in the agriculture sector, Opposition members started demanding repeal of three new farm laws.
Congress MPs from Punjab, Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Jasbir Singh Gill and Ravneet Singh Bittu wore black robes in Lok Sabha to express their solidarity with protesting farmers.
SAD leaders Sukhbir Singh Badal and Harsimrat Kaur Badal also carried anti-farm law placards to mark their protest.
The farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, who have been camping at Delhi’s borders since November 25 last year, have been demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws promulgated by the Centre, fearing that they would lead to the abolishment of the minimum support price (MSP) guaranteed by the government on select crops and would leave them at the mercy of big corporates.
The three laws are: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines