PM-Kisan scheme unlikely in Madhya Pradesh due to data delay

Bhopal: The Modi government’s ambitious cash-transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers, PM-Kisan, to be launched on February 24, has hit a roadblock in Madhya Pradesh, with the state not nominating any farmer so far.
Farm minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said a few mostly Opposition-ruled states, including Madhya Pradesh, were “being slow” in providing beneficiary details. Authorities in Madhya Pradesh, however, said it was not possible to prepare a list of thousands of beneficiaries adhering to an “aggressive deadline” set by the Centre.
“West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka… these are some states which have been slow. States such as UP, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have been very active. I am not saying this. This is what the data says,” Singh had said.
Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka are Opposition-ruled, while the Bharatiya Janata Party is in power in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Indeed, as the agriculture minister claimed, no farmer from Madhya Pradesh will be part of the estimated 5-6 million beneficiaries when Modi launches the scheme at a rally in Gorakahpur on Sunday.
A top bureaucrat in Madhya Pradesh, a Congress-ruled state which had witnessed large-scale farmers’ protests, said: “We simply can’t complete such a huge exercise. It is a big logistical exercise and the Centre’s deadlines are aggressive,” said Manish Rastogi, MP principal secretary in charge of the revenue department. The revenue department of each state is responsible for providing land-holding patterns of farmers, which is the basis for deciding who qualifies for the scheme.
PM-Kisan will offer Rs 6,000 as an annual cash transfer to small and marginal farmers in three instalments of Rs 2,000. The scheme will go by land ownership on official records as on February 1, 2019. Of a total of 140 million land holdings in the country, 120 million, or 86%, are below two hectares; the owners of these land parcels will qualify for the cash transfer because they are counted as small and marginal farmers.
Rastogi said the state had issued circulars, which are essentially notices, to district authorities to carry out the process of verifying farmer details for PM-Kisan. A software platform for the purpose was being used. However, Madhya Pradesh will be able to complete only one-third of the total farmers’ data by the first week of March, he said.
Rastogi said while land records in Madhya Pradesh were partly digitised, there were a lot of joint holdings. These issues can’t be verified within such a short timeframe, he said. The agriculture ministry had asked states to upload relevant data by February 25 so that verified beneficiaries can receive the first tranche of Rs 2,000 by March 31.
The share of marginal landholdings in total land holdings in Madhya Pradesh increased from 40% in 1995-96 to 43.9% in 2010-11, according to official data.
The average size of landholdings in Madhya Pradesh was 1.8 hectare, which point to a large number of potential beneficiaries who would qualify for the PM-Kisan scheme.