Telangana's Rythu Bandhu scheme showed the way to the Centre, which on Friday announced the PM Kisan Yojna to provide income support to farmers. Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his Interim Budget announced the scheme for direct cash transfer to small farmers. Every farmer owning less than two hectares of land will get Rs 6,000 per year in three equal installments.
It was Telangana, India's newest state, which came out with the investment support scheme last year as part of its measures to transform the agriculture sector. It is aimed at taking care of the initial investment by the farmer so that he doesn't have to approach private lenders.
However, under Rythu Bandhu, farmers irrespective of their land holding are getting Rs 8,000 per acre annually, at the rate of Rs 4,000 per acre per crop.
Launched in May last year by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government, the scheme has so far benefited 58 lakh farmers. In the Budget for 2018-19, the state has set aside Rs 12,000 crore for this scheme.
Responding to the announcement, TRS Working President K T Rama Rao said, “They say imitation is the best form of flattery. Glad that the farmers of India are going to be helped by “Rythu Bandhu”, brainchild of our Hon’ble CM KCR Garu. The name may have been changed by NDA Govt, in spirit it remains trimmed version of Rythu Bandhu. Jai Kisan.”
They say imitation is the best form of flattery. Glad that the farmers of India are going to be helped by “Rythu Bandhu” l, brainchild of our Hon’ble CM KCR Garu— KTR (@KTRTRS) February 1, 2019
The name may have been changed by NDA Govt, in spirit it remains trimmed version of Rythu Bandhu. Jai Kisan https://t.co/ZTmMHi6sXG
Governor E S L Narasimhan had noted last month that Rythu Bandhu not only found its place in the national agenda but also won appreciation from the United Nations.
To ensure that benefits of Rythu Bandhu reach the actual beneficiaries, a comprehensive programme for purification, rectification and update of revenue records was taken up. Under the programme, ownership of 94% of lands was determined and passbooks were issued to farmers.
However, one of the aspects of Rythu Bandhu which has come under criticism repeatedly, is that tenant farmers are not entitled for benefits.
In June last year, thousands of farmers staged road blockades across six districts of Telangana, blocking the highway from Karimnagar to Khammam-Bhadrachalam to raise their voices in protest against the exclusion of 15 lakh real cultivators, including tenant and adivasi farmers, from the state’s ‘Rythu Bandhu’ scheme.
The protests which took place in Karimnagar, Warangal (Urban and Rural), Mahbubabad, Kothagudem and Khammam districts were jointly organised by various farmer organisations and supported by Professor Kodandaram's Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and Left parties.
At the time, the farmers also demanded the implementation of the 2011 Licensed Cultivators Act to grant recognition to all cultivators including tenant farmers.