Launching a direct cash transfer scheme for farmers under the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojna, the Chhattisgarh government said on Thursday that it had transferred the first tranche of Rs 1,500 crore in the accounts of about 19 lakh farmers.
Under the scheme, Rs 5,750 crore will be disbursed in four instalments to farmers of 14 different crops in the state. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said sugarcane farmers will get a grant of Rs 13,000 per acre, while paddy farmers will get Rs 10,000 per acre.
A senior government official said they were still collating the data for other crops, including maize. Baghel said that 90% of the beneficiaries are marginalised farmers, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, and the poor.
“We have also decided to include landless agricultural labourers in the second phase of the scheme, and have constituted a committee headed by the chief secretary to prepare a detailed action plan for it,” he said.
In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections last year, the Congress had promised to implement a minimum income support programme called NYAY. Now that Chhattisgarh has become the first Congress-ruled state to implement the scheme, there will be pressure on the party’s governments in Rajasthan and Punjab to follow.
The move will also prompt the Congress to project an alternative welfare model, especially since the central government has not been keen on direct cash transfers.
Signalling this, Rahul Gandhi, who attended the video conference to launch the scheme along with party chief Sonia Gandhi, said the Chhattisgarh government had “set an example for the entire country on how to help people in the time of crisis”.
“I had requested Prime Minister to provide financial aid to poor people instead of loans, as they need cash more that credit. Chhattisgarh is the first state to transfer financial aid directly into the accounts of farmers. We all know that the economic condition of the state is not that good. Despite that, the Chhattisgarh government has decided to provide relief to farmers,” he said.
“This is not a decision of one person, it is the voice of Chhattisgarh. People of Chhattisgarh have expressed their needs and guided us towards this decision,” he said.
“The scheme aims to support farmers and economically weaker sections of society, provide them opportunities to live a dignified life and alleviate poverty. It marks the beginning of a new era of prosperity for farmers of the state,” Baghel said.
The inauguration of the scheme coincided with Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary.
“The Chhattisgarh government has taken a great step to support poor, tribal people and farmers. The decision to include rural, landless labourers in the second phase of the scheme is commendable,” Sonia said.
In an article in The Indian Express earlier, Baghel had said: “I believe that the more cash we transfer into the bank accounts of farmers, villagers, poor and tribal with the ideology of Nyay scheme, the same amount will strengthen the rural base of the economy. All the nations of the world affected by Covid-19 are on this path of recovery but unfortunately, the structure of the Indian central government is debt-based and it is not proving to help reduce the challenges for the states.”
On Thursday, Baghel said that in the last 18 months, his government had transferred nearly Rs 40,700 crore into farmers’ accounts in the form of payment against paddy procurement, loan waiver, crop insurance, irrigation tax waiver and bonus.
Last year, the government had promised Rs 2,500 per quintal to paddy farmers, which was Rs 800 more than the central government’s price. “Looking at the Covid-19 crisis, we decided to pay for sugarcane, maize and other crops too,” said a senior state government official.
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