PM-Kisan funds given to over 20L ineligible farmers

Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka among top 5 states disbursing PM-Kisan funds to ineligible farmers

Among those who were ineligible, 4.74 lakh Punjab farmers garnered the highest amount of Rs 323.85 crore

Representative image. Credit: DH Photo

Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka are among the top-five states where farmers who were not eligible for the PM-Kisan scheme pocketed the highest amount of funds from the government, an RTI has shown.

Altogether, the government disbursed Rs 1,364.13 crore to 20.48 lakh farmers who were not eligible for the scheme till 31 July, 2020 in 68.20 lakh instalments with the five top-five states -- Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka -- alone accounting for 67.92% or Rs 926.56 crore of the total funds that were disbursed among undeserving ones.

Among those who were ineligible, 4.74 lakh Punjab farmers garnered the highest amount of Rs 323.85 crore in 16.19 lakh instalment followed by Maharashtra (Rs 216.90 crore for 2.86 lakh farmers in 10.84 instalments), Gujarat (Rs 162.34 crore for 1.64 lakh in 8.11 lakh instalments) and UP (Rs 146.01 crore for 1.64 lakh in 7.30 lakh instalments).

Read | PM Modi releases Rs 18,000 cr under PM-Kisan scheme

Karnataka came fifth with 86,419 undeserving farmers receiving Rs 77.44 crore in 3.87 lakh instalments, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers' Welfare said in its response to the RTI query filed by transparency activist Venkatesh Nayak.

If one takes the proportion, 19.98% or almost one in every five farmers registered with PM-Kisan in Punjab is not eligible while it is 2.53% in Maharashtra, 2.66% in Gujarat, 0.6% in UP and 1.53% in Karnataka. Overall. 1.95% of 10.47 crore beneficiaries were not eligible for the scheme.

With only one undeserving recipient, Sikkim has reported the lowest figure of Rs 10,000 where the money was transferred in five instalments. Meghalaya (21), Arunachal Pradesh (70) and Nagaland (89) also reported the lowest number of undeserving recipients.

When it comes to the number of undeserving farmers, Punjab has the highest accounting for 23.16% followed by Assam (3.45 lakh or 16.87%) and Maharashtra 13.99%. These three states alone account for 54.03% of the number of undeserving persons who received payouts.

Gujarat takes the fourth position with 8.05% followed by Uttar Pradesh with 8.01%. In all other states, including Karnataka, the number of undeserving recipients is less than one lakh.

The revised guidelines of PM-Kisan scheme, launched in February 2019 to provide Rs 6,000 a year in three instalments to farmers, had excluded farmers who are institutional landholders, those who paid income tax, professionals, former and present ministers, MPs and MLAs, those who held or hold Constitutional posts, present and retired officials and all those who receive a pension of more than Rs 10,000.

Nayak said over 20 lakh undeserving persons were included in the scheme despite the employment of digital infrastructure to register and make payments and in some instances all five instalments seem to have been paid out before it was discovered that many of the recipients were undeserving according to the exclusion criteria. In other cases, he said, the discovery seems to have been made soon after 1-2 instalments were paid out.

Though there are reports about recovering these payments, Nayak felt that recovering this huge amount could 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," he said adding that official internal correspondence showed that officials are yet to begin maintaining a database of recoveries made from undeserving recipients.

Also Read | OBC farmers are 86% PM-KISAN beneficiaries in Karnataka

The Department provided information for two sets of undeserving recipients -- ineligible farmers and farmers paying income tax. All those except income-tax-paying farmers falling in one or more categories are clubbed under ineligible farmers.

While Rs 985.09 crore or 72.28% of payouts were to IT payee farmers while those in the "ineligible farmers" category bagged Rs 379.03 crore.

The RTI showed that 55.58% or 11.33 lakh among the undeserving recipients belong to the "IT payee farmers" category in which Maharashtra tops the list with 2.18 lakh beneficiaries (Rs 194.18 crore) while 68,224 (Rs 22.72 crore) were bracketed under ineligible farmers category in the state.

Uttar Pradesh came second with 1.63 lakh IT payee farmers (Rs 145.44 crore) while only 791 farmers (Rs 57.06 lakh) belonged to the "ineligible" category. Karnataka had 86,266 (Rs 77.33 crore) income tax payee farmers who received PM-Kisan funds while there were only 153 (Rs 11.44 lakh) in the ineligible farmer category.

Punjab topped the list of states in the "ineligible farmers" category with 4.42 lakh beneficiaries while there were only 32,166 beneficiaries who were paying income tax.

In the "IT payee farmers" category, Maharashtra received the largest number of instalments at 9.70 lakhs followed by Gujarat with 8.06 lakh instalments. UP with 7.27 lakh instalments takes the third position while Karnataka with 3.86 lakh instalments comes a distant fourth followed by Tamil Nadu, with 3.49 lakh instalments, occupying the fifth position.

In terms of averages, recipients in the "ineligible farmers" category in Telangana received more than four instalments each. Karnataka, UP, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Nagaland, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand clocked three or more instalments in this category.