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Govt of India paid Rs 1,400 crore to rich farmers 'violating' PM-Kisan rule: RTI reply

By Our Representative

On December 25, 2020 Prime Minister of India, speaking on the occasion of the birthday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said, the Central government had deposited Rs 18,000 crore in the bank accounts of more than 9 crore farmer households under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-Kisan Yojana).
However, data obtained under The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 by Venkatesh Nayak, programme head, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi, indicates, since the commencement of PM-Kisan Yojana in 2019, Rs 1,364.13 crore has been paid to two category of farmers – “ineligible persons” and "income tax payees", who should not have been paid. 
When launched in 2019, the PM-Kisan Yojana was to cover only small and marginal farmers owning less than two hectares of land. Later, the scheme was expanded to include all farmers irrespective of the size of their landholdings, though revised guideline excluded several categories such as institutional landholder; farmer families in which a has held a constitutional position in India, state or district panchayat; those who have served in government, ,except for Class IV employees; and pensioners receiving monthly pension of Rs 10,000 or more; income tax payees; and professionals such as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants and architects.
Nayak’s analysis suggests, a total of 20,48,634 undeserving persons across the country had received PM-Kisan payouts until July 31, 2020. More than half (55.58%) of these undeserving persons belong to the "income tax payee category." The remaining 44.41% belong to the "ineligible farmers” category.
In an email alert, he says, Punjab tops the list accounting for 23.16% (4.74 lakh) of the total number of undeserving persons who received payouts followed by Assam with 16.87% (3.45 lakh) and Maharashtra with 13.99% (2.86 lakh). These three States account for more than half (54.03%) of the number of undeserving persons who received payouts. Gujarat takes the fourth position with 8.05% (1.65 lakh).
According to Nayak, Maharashtra tops the list of states in terms of the number of "IT payee farmers" who received PM-Kisan payouts with 2.18 lakh farmers. Uttar Pradesh follows with 1.63 lakh IT payee farmers, and Gujarat takes the third position with 1.62 lakh "IT payee farmers" receiving payouts.
Pointing out that of the whopping Rs 1,364.13 crore paid out to undeserving recipients belonging to the two categories, Nayak says, of this, Rs 985.09 crore was payouts to "IT payee farmers", constituting 72.28% of the total, while the payouts to "ineligible farmers" at Rs 379.03 crore amounted to 27.78% of the total. 
Maharashtra cornered maximum amount in IT payee farmers category at Rs 194.18 crore (51.23%), Gujarat followed closely with Rs 161.32 crore
He continues, with Rs 323.85 crore Punjab topped the list of States and UTs where undeserving farmers (both category of farmers) received the largest amount of payouts (23.74% of the total). Maharashtra with Rs 216.90 crore takes second position (15.90%), followed by Gujarat with Rs 162.34 crore (11.90%), UP with Rs 146.01 crore (10.70%) and Karnataka with Rs 77.44 crore (5.67%).
Together, these five states account for more than two thirds of the total payouts (Rs 926.54 crore) made to "ineligible" and “IT payee farmers", he adds.
A further analysis of the two categories shows shows that while Punjab received the biggest chunk of payouts made to "ineligible farmers" at Rs 291.35 crore (29.58%). On the other hand, while Maharashtra cornered the maximum payouts made to "IT payee farmers" at Rs 194.18 crore (51.23%), with Gujarat following closely at second place with payouts of Rs 161.32 crore.
Comments Nayak, “According to media reports, proceedings have already been launched in some districts of Maharashtra to recover payments made to undeserving recipients. Recovering more than Rs 1,300 crore from the ineligible and IT payee farmers will be a herculean task given their geographical spread. The financial adversity suffered by members of the farming community due to the nation-wide lockdown in 2020 makes this task even more daunting.”

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