Extending a hand to farmers for the rabi/yasangi season, the Telangana government has released about Rs 5,100 crore as part of the Rythu Bandhu scheme, in which the state provides investment support to farmers.
The KCR-led government’s scheme is aimed at giving farmers an initial investment so that they can be rid of the dependence on private lenders. The scheme dispenses money twice a year at the rate of Rs 5,000 per acre.
The government order states: “In pursuance of the Budget Release Order, the Government, after careful examination, hereby accord Administrative Sanction to the Commissioner of Agriculture, Telangana, Hyderabad towards meeting the expenditure in relaxation of quarterly regulation orders under the Investment support scheme.”
The move, coming just days before the state municipal elections, has raised eyebrows.
With the release of the order, the Agriculture department will provide the details of farmer beneficiaries to the Finance department in order to disburse the assistance amount.
The government had allocated Rs 12,862 crore budget for the scheme for the year of 2019-2020; out of this, it had already released Rs 6,862 crore during the kharif season and the amount was credited into the bank accounts of farmers.
The Rythu Bandhu scheme, which is believed to benefit around 58 lakh farmers in the state, is facing criticism for its inability to provide help to tenant farmers and real cultivators. Farmer rights activists allege that more than 30% of the sanctioned amount goes to non-cultivators who merely enjoy possession of land.
Speaking to TNM, Kondal Reddy, secretary of the Rythu Swarajya Vedika, a farmers’ organisation that works extensively for farmer rights in the Telugu speaking states, said that the government should implement the 2011 Licensed Cultivators Act to grant recognition to all cultivators, including tenant farmers, in order to bring more beneficiaries into the scheme’s fold.
“There are more than 15 lakh tenant farmers in the state who are unable to get this assistance. The government must address this issue to provide support to all the real cultivators. Tenant farmers should be given Loan Eligibility Cards, based on which they can be given Rythu Bandhu assistance,” Reddy added.