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Response to an RTI (Right to Information) query has revealed that undeserving beneficiaries were disbursed funds under government's Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sammann Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.
According to the Economic Times, the government has paid ₹1,364 crores to 20.48 lakh undeserving beneficiaries. The Union Agriculture Ministry, while replying to the RTI query, said that it had identified two categories of undeserving beneficiaries who received payouts under the scheme as "ineligible farmers" and "income tax payee farmers".
The scheme was launched by the Centre in 2019 to provide minimum income support to eligible farmers. Under the initiative, an amount of ₹6,000 per year in three equal instalments is paid to small and marginal farmer families having combined landholding or ownership of up to two hectares.
"More than half (55.58%) of these undeserving persons belong to the 'income tax payee category'," said RTI applicant Venkatesh Nayak of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI).
"The remaining 44.41% belong to the "ineligible farmers' category'," he added.
Nayak reiterated that government's own data pointed out that the money was going into the wrong hands. The data revealed that a massive ₹1,364.13 crores (USD 186.59 million) has been paid to the farmers belonging to the two aforementioned categories till July 31, 2020. Majority of such ineligible farmers belonged to five states including Punjab, Assam, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, according to the data.
"Punjab tops the list accounting for 23.16 per cent (4.74 lakh) of the total number of undeserving persons across the country who received payouts, followed by Assam with 16.87% (3.45 lakh beneficiaries) and Maharashtra with 13.99% (2.86 lakh beneficiaries).
These three states account for more than half (54.03 per cent) of the number of undeserving persons who received payouts," Nayak said. Meanwhile, Gujarat is at the fourth position with 8.05 per cent (1.64 lakh beneficiaries), followed by Uttar Pradesh at fifth position with 8.01 per cent (1.64 lakh beneficiaries).
Nayak said according to media reports, proceedings have been initiated to recover these funds transferred to undeserving persons.
Who is excluded from the scheme?
Institutional landholders, farmer families in which one or more members is among beneficiaries — former and present holders of constitutional posts, former and present ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLCs, mayors and chairmen of district panchayat; serving and retired government employees; pensioners receiving over Rs 10,000 monthly pension; income tax payees and professionals such as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants and architects,
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