HYDERABAD: It seems there are not many takers for the Telangana government’s 'give it up' campaign, which was meant to encourage rich landowners and farmers to voluntarily opt out of its flagship welfare programme Rythu Bandhu to reduce its financial burden.
As per the official data, only 2,000 agriculture landowners out of over 63 lakh beneficiaries in the state opted for the Rythu Bandhu 'give it up' option. Of them, 400 landowners submitted applications to the agriculture department to reclaim the benefit.
Under Rythu Bandhu, the government transfers Rs 10,000 per acre per year (Rs 5,000 each in kharif and rabi) to all landowners irrespective of the extent of land they own. The government is spending nearly Rs 15,000 crore per year on this scheme.
The government has taken up 'give it up' campaign with the prime objective of encouraging landowners who own agricultural land above 10 acres to voluntarily opt out of the scheme. Official sources in the agriculture department said there were 6,679 persons in Telangana who owned more than 25 acres each. They together own nearly 2.25 lakh acres on whom the government was spending Rs 225 crore towards Rythu Bandhu every year at the rate of Rs 10,000 per acre per year.
There are 7,367 persons who own land between 20 acres and 25 acres. They together own 1.63 lakh acres. The expenditure incurred on Rythu Bandhu for them is Rs 163 crore per year.
There are 19,195 persons who own land between 15 acres and 20 acres who together own 3.28 lakh acres. The Rythu Bandhu expenditure is Rs 328 crore per year.
Similarly, 65,411 persons own lands between 10 acres and 15 acres, who together own 7.81 lakh acres. The expenditure incurred on Rythu Bandhu is Rs 781 crore per year.
The data shows that 98,652 persons in Telangana own lands above 10 acres each and together own 14.97 lakh acres. The government is incurring expenditure of Rs 1,497 crore per year towards Rythu Bandhu.
The government hoped that if the majority of these landowners opted out of Rythu Bandhu, it could save at least Rs 1,000 crore per year. But the ground reality looks contrasting.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao was the first to give up Rythu Bandhu during its launch in May 2018 while giving a call to all rich landowners to voluntarily opt out of the scheme.
Following the Chief Minister’s call, a few ministers A. Indrakaran Reddy, Tummala Nageshwar Rao and Patnam Mahender Reddy gave up Rythu Bandhu then. A few IAS and IPS officers, gazetted officers, industrialists, businessmen etc also reportedly gave up Rythu Bandhu but their names were kept a secret. In all, just 1,980 persons in the entire state gave up the benefit.
Surprisingly, nearly 400 of them have again submitted applications to agriculture department to reclaim Rythu Bandhu....