Debt-hit Telangana defaults on Rythu Bandhu to 12 lakh farmers

In the current Rabi season, around 59 lakh farmers had registered under the scheme.

Hyderabad: A debt-laden Telangana, on the throes of a financial crunch, has not paid Rythu Bandhu financial assistance to over 12 lakh farmers, under the scheme for the current Rabi season. Some of these farmers who have not got the money include those who were in the list of beneficiaries during the Kharif season, besides several newly added farmers in the list for this season.

The government recently released Rs 5,100 crore to extend assistance to farmers as against the estimated Rs 6,150 crore actual amount required to service all farmers.

Rs 1,150 crore deficit deprives 1.2 mn farmers
A deficit of Rs 1,150 crore has led to over 1.2 million farmers in Telangana being deprived of rightfully due financial support to take up sowing in the Rabi season.

According to officials, when Rythu Bandhu was launched during the Rabi season in 2018, nearly 49.03 lakh farmers received financial assistance at the rate of Rs 4,000 per acre. The government disbursed Rs 5,244 crore at that time for the in Rabi 2018 season.

In the current Rabi season, around 59 lakh farmers had registered under the scheme. The TRS-led state government had, in the lead up to Assembly elections in December 2018, promised enhancing the amount under the scheme from Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per acre. Accordingly, it allocated Rs 12,000 crore in the state budget 2019-20 to extend benefits to farmers for both Kharif and Rabi seasons.

Officials of the agriculture department remained tight-lipped over lakhs of farmers not receiving the assistance under the Rythu Bandhu scheme.

M. Kodanda Reddy, vice-chairman, All-India Kisan Congress, said that although the government had allocated Rs 12,000 crore in the budget, it had released only Rs 5,456 crore for Kharif and Rs 5,100 for Rabi, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of farmers being deprived of the rightful benefit.

T. Sagar, general-secretary, Telangana Rythu Sangham, said that the state government has extended the benefit only to farmers who owned less than five acres of land. He said that several small and medium farmers could not get pattadar passbooks due to alleged anomalies and discrepancies during the exercise of rectification of land records. The gigantic exercise undertaken by the TRS government to purify / rectify revenue records has led to this failure, not financial crunch, Mr Sagar said.

Ponguleti Sudhakar Reddy, BJP leader, said that it was is unfortunate that a large chunk of small and medium farmers were deprived of their rightfully due benefit.

“They really deserve the financial aid,” Mr Reddy said, adding that the assistance has to be given to farmers before commencement of the season, and there was little meaning in giving aid after the commencing of the sowing season.

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