Bhubaneswar: With an eye on the forthcoming poll, the Narendra Modi Government made a big-ticket announcement in its interim Budget to give Rs 6,000 per year to farmers owning less than five acres of land which is said to be too less and too late than Odisha's creative scheme KALIA.
Through, the Modi Government tried to borrow a similar scheme like KALIA in the form of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PMKSNY) but seems to be far less comprehensive than Odisha's scheme. According to the interim finance minister Piyush Goyal who presented budget, the move is likely to benefit 12 crore farmers and will cost the government Rs 75,000 crore. The scheme will be funded entirely by the Union government. The government has announced to transfer the financial assistance to their bank accounts in three equal installments of Rs 2,000. However, the Kalia scheme in Odisha – that give more to farmers and proves to be wider safety umbrella than Centre’s scheme.
KALIA Scheme in Odisha
Some of the shortcomings of Rythu Bandhu ( similar scheme of Telengana) were addressed. It provides assistance of Rs 10,000 per family a year – Rs 5,000 each in the Rabi and Kharif crop seasons covering almost 92 percent of the cultivators – landowners as well as tenants.
Besides an assistance of Rs 10,000 per year, KALIA also includes a life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and additional personal accident coverage of the same amount for 57 lakh households. Crop loans up to Rs 50,000 are interest-free. While the scheme also aims to support 10 lakh landless families, specifically those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, with a support of Rs 12,500 for livelihood activities like cattle-rearing, poultry farming and fisheries, there is no such provision in Centre's new scheme.
Similarly, at a time when KALIA promptly addresses the issues of share croppers, the Centre's scheme has remained silent about it.
Too Little, Too Late
The Modi led government’s promise is far less than what is being provided under the KALIA schemes in Odisha. Farm activist Ramandeep Singh Mann described the government’s Rs 6,000 per year promise as a “lollipop”. According to his calculation, it amounts to Rs 16.5 per day, which is unlikely to help resolve the agrarian crisis.
Ever since the BJP government lost the three crucial Hindi heartland states, partly owing to agrarian crisis, speculation was ripe that the Narendra Modi government would announce something big to win back the farming community.
Amid such rumors, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the much talked-about Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) with provision of direct cash transfer to small farmers and share croppers, most of whom did not own a land. It provided Rs 5000 per cropping season and an additional Rs 12,500 each as cash grants to 10 lakh landless households. Agriculturalists and economists praised the scheme and there were talks that the Narendra Modi government would be examining KALIA.
Both the Telangana and the Central schemes are targeted at farmers who possess land. Here, the KALIA model went a step ahead by covering landless cultivators as well. Meanwhile in the post-budget analysis, experts have said that KALIA scheme offers more than the Central scheme announced in the budget.
“The farmer income support scheme looks modest. It is less than what’s already operational in Odisha. The scheme is fiscally difficult, but manageable,” noted economist S A Aiyar said.
The Telangana scheme fails to reach tenants or share croppers doing the actual cultivation. It also fails to benefit landless labourers, the most-needy. These shortcomings are overcome by KALIA. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik' rightly said KALIA is a torch bearer for the country and a better solution for farmers and farm sector.