Registrations are likely to touch 70 million by end of July, almost halfway to the government’s estimate of 145 million beneficiaries, Vivek Agrawal, CEO of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), told ET.
Under the scheme that became operational on December 1, the Centre gives a cash benefit of Rs 6,000 to eligible farmers in three equal instalments to help them fund agricultural input costs. The first instalment was for the period from December 2018 to March 2019.
“So far, 54.1 million farmers have enrolled for the scheme. The speed has picked up this month and by month-end, we are likely to have 70 million farmers on board,” he said.
The government opened the scheme to all farmers, irrespective of the size of their land holdings, from May 31 this year. The Centre, at a recent meeting, urged the agriculture ministers of states to upload their lists of farmers before July 31.
“Farmers enrolling after July 31 will not be able to get the second instalment. It’s a progressive scheme. Benefits will be passed on to farmers from the time of their enrolment,” he said.
About 25 million farmers are estimated to own land larger than 2 hectares. Since these farmers are more affluent and aware than small and marginal farmers, the number of enrolments has shot up. There are more such farmers in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh.
“Though we are not mapping medium and large farmers separately, we believe that 7-8% of fresh enrolments belong to that category,” said a senior agriculture department official involved in the exercise.
“All states, except West Bengal and Delhi, have proactively started uploading beneficiary lists. All the farmers whose names are uploaded till July 31 will be eligible for the second instalment. We are satisfied with the progress,” Agrawal said.
The state governments of West Bengal and Delhi opted to keep out of this scheme.
The government has budgeted Rs 87,000 crore for this scheme, estimating the number of beneficiaries to be 145 million, based on the 2015 agriculture census. In the previous financial year, the government allocated Rs 20,000 crore for the first instalment and distributed less than Rs 9,000 crore. Nearly 2.69 lakh beneficiaries could not get the first tranche as a lot of discrepancies were found in their bank details. The government is likely to save more with the second instalment going to less than half the number of estimated beneficiaries. State governments have been asked to correct those discrepancies for transferring the payment.
“These are just estimates – no one knows the exact number of farmers,” Agrawal said. “We had estimated that there would be around 350,000 small and marginal farmers in Punjab based on the census. But we already have more than 1.3 million beneficiaries from that state. Similarly, some states may have fewer number of beneficiaries than estimated. We will cover all of them irrespective of numbers.”