Interim budget 2019: Rs 6k a year scheme for farmers gets mixed reaction
New Delhi, Feb 1: India's interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday, February 1, presented the interim budget of 2019 and it was a document which aimed at showing a kind face to the country's farming and middle classes.
The government came up on the occasion with the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, a scheme whereby any farmer who owns up to two hectares of land would be assured an annual income of Rs 6,000.
The budget for Fiscal 2020 has allocated Rs 75,000 crore for the same and it is expected that 120 million land-owning farming households will benefit from this.
The Centre will count December 1, 2018, as the starting date for the inaugural year for transfer of cash while an additional Rs 20,000 crore have been allocated for the same for the current financial year ending next month.
Goyal said the amount will be transferred into the farmers' bank accounts in three installments of Rs 2,000 each and the date of disbursing the first installment will be declared soon.
After the defeat in three Hindi heartland states in December, it was expected that the Narendra Modi government would come up with some measures for fast relief for the agriculturists who are having a difficult time and the never-ending tragedy of farmers' suicide making the headlines often.
However, the declaration about farmers' scheme in the interim budget did not please all.
'Ask Modi to keep his Rs 6,000'
According to a report in Quartz, many of the farmers were seeking implementation of sweeping reforms as recommended by the Swaminathan report in place of cash grants.
One farmer Shyambhir Singh from UP's Ghaziabad district even said: "Ask Modi to keep his Rs 6,000. The farmers aren't begging" -- Quartz reported. There were also others who felt that it was better to get at least something than nothing.
This is not the first time that the Modi government has hiked agricultural spending though. Yet, the farming community's woes haven't reduced and they were recently seen marching to the cities from villages seeking loan waivers and higher price ceilings for their produce.
The Opposition has also made full use of the opportunity. Soon after coming to power, the Congress waived farm loans in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and its president Rahul Gandhi also promised that if voted to power in the Lok Sabha elections this year, his party will provide minimum guaranteed income to individuals below the poverty line.
Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram mocked the scheme for farmers saying he would be surprised if they are happy with the amount that comes to around Rs 17 a day.