Odisha’s KALIA Far-Reaching Than Centre’s PMKSNY
Bhubaneswar: 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 rumours, 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. The interim budget presented on Friday proved that.
The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PMKSNY) appeared to be a borrowed-version of KALIA, though its reach could be limited to those farmers who own land. Much like the KALIA model of cash transfer, PMKSNY will provide Rs 6000 per annum in three installments to farmers, who own less than two acres.
Global experience proves that farm distress is best relieved by subsidising farmers through cash transfers, and the direct benefit transfer models are an answer to this. The Rythu Bandhu scheme of the Telengana government had brought the KCR government back to power last year.
Both the Telengana and the Central schemes are targetted at farmers who possess land. Here, the KALIA model went a step ahead by covering landless cultivators as well.
Rightly so, in their 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 broader contours of PMKSNY is yet to be spelt out but in his budget speech interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said that a provision of Rs 75,000 crore has been set aside to implement the scheme. The first installment of Rs 2000 will be deposited in the beneficiaries account shortly.
Aiyar had tried to draw a comparison between KALIA and Rythu Bandhu in an analytical piece last month, saying that the former was a better long-run model for all states. He said that while transferring the cash, the Telengana 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. “Naveen rightly pours scorn on loan waivers in states ruled by the BJP and Congress, since the biggest farmers with the biggest loans are the biggest gainers. Small farmers and agricultural workers often have no farm loans and get no benefit,” he had said.
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