Economics Prelims cum Mains

In Telangana, fine tuning a scheme for farmers

The News

  • Rythu Bandhu, a farmers’ investment support scheme announced recently by the Telangana government, excludes an estimated 14 lakh tenant farmers.

Background

Rythu Bandhu scheme:

  • The Rythu Bandhu scheme provides investment support to farmers to buy seeds, fertilizer and other inputs.
  • The input assistance is crucial in reducing the stress on farmers.
  • An amount of Rs 4,000 for Kharif and Rs 4,000 for Rabi seasons will be paid separately via cheques.
  • A total of Rs. 12,000 crore was allotted for the scheme in the budget.
  • It is aimed at extending the benefit to everyone who had land, whether it was tilled or not.
  • District collectors in the state are responsible for physical verification of each farmer and his land.
  • The beneficiaries are identified according to an updated land records of 1.43 crore acres.
  • Cash will be distributed through six nationalised and two rural banks, selected by the state-level banker’s committee.
  • Instructions were given not to distribute this cash to purposes other than Rythu Bandhu scheme.

Beneficiaries

  • The programme is targeted to benefit 57.40 lakh farmers, who were identified on the basis of updated land records.

Colour code

  • Farmers have been categorised under ‘RGB colour model’ based on the perceived risk and red, green, blue and white tokens are being distributed to farmers.
  • Only the farmers with a white token would receive both the incentive cheque and the pattadar passbook.
  • The tokens that have been printed centrally carry particulars of the beneficiary, including the bank details and the date for encashment of the cheque.

Problem: Exclusion of some categories

  • Tenant farmers were excluded from the scheme as it might cause legal disputes since tenancy was an informal arrangement.
  • Apart from tenant farmers, the government omitted from the scheme a few lakh farmers tilling land distributed by the Bhoodan Yagna Board.
  • Further 12 lakh cheques could not be distributed as beneficiaries were not available in villages owing to either migration or errors in the printing of names or multiple accounts.
  • Aadhaar linkage issues also affected distribution.
  • Those who refused to give Aadhaar numbers were not extended the benefit.
  • Several mistakes — amount difference in printed cheques, records showing more than actual extent, lands including non-agriculture, and those under Prohibition of Tranfers Act, beneficiaries not showing Aadhaar, or inclusion of deceased — existed in all categories.
  • Further, clerical errors leading to photo mismatches — a reason to withhold cheques and passbooks are extra.

Other pro-famer measures

  • Other pro-farmer include land records update, extending health insurance cover to every beneficiary for Rs. 5 lakh.

Funding

  • To meet the kharif requirement of Rs. 6,000 crore, the government has mobilised three instalments of Rs. 2,000 crore each from State Development Loans auctioned by the Reserve Bank of India at an interest ranging from 8.05% to 8.15%, with a repayment tenure of 25 years.

Implementation

  • The government selected eight banks, led by the State Bank of India, which serviced a majority of farmers to implement the programme through their branches in villages.
  • About 41 lakh farmers have encashed cheques worth Rs. 4,400 crore since May 10.
  • Of the 58 lakh cheques printed for distribution, officials have distributed cheques to 46 lakh farmers.

Deadline

  • After the distribution of cheques, the government planned to entrust registration of land transactions to tahsil offices.
  • Consequently ‘pattadar’ passbooks-cum-title deeds are prepared and the records are maintained through a portal titled ‘Dharani’ to be operated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).
  • The government has set a deadline of June 20 for distribution of cheques and passbooks.
  • However nearly three lakh passbooks had to be held back to carry out corrections.

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