Acting on poll promises within 24 hours of taking oath, the Modi government on Friday approved extension of the PM-Kisan income support scheme to all farmers, removed the limit of 2 hectares and also cleared a pension scheme for agriculturists, small traders and self-employed persons.
The pension scheme cleared at the first cabinet meeting assures a minimum of Rs 3,000 per month to all those who attain the age of 60. The extended PM-Kisan will now benefit all 14.5 crore farmers, subject to the prevalent exclusion criteria, across the country.
The benefit under the scheme was earlier limited to small and marginal farmers (having landholding up to 2 hectares) who account for nearly 12.5 crore farmers in the country. The pension scheme for farmers will benefit over 5 crore across the country. The focus on farming clearly intends to ensure that issues like “farm distress” do not become a political vulnerability.
“The Modi government has taken important decisions for welfare of farmers, cattle and small traders, which we had promised in our poll manifesto. These are landmark decisions and show a fast pace of decision making,” I&B minister Prakash Javadekar said. PM-Kisan will now add up to Rs 87,000 crore a year.
Besides PM-Kisan, the cabinet in its first meeting also approved an ambitious scheme to control ‘foot and mouth’ disease and Brucellosis — common among cows, bulls, buffaloes, sheep, goats and pigs — with a total outlay of Rs 13,343 crore. The scheme envisages vaccination of over 50 crore animals.
Under the pension scheme, all small shopkeepers, retailers and traders whose annual GST turnover is below Rs 1.5 crore, and are in the age group of 18-40 years, will be entitled to get Rs 3,000 monthly after attaining the age of 60 years. The demand for a pension scheme was high on the list of traders’ organisations which interacted with BJP leaders in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election. The poll pledge was seen as an important part of the effort to reassure the trader community that BJP had not sight of their interests.
Interested persons can enrol themselves through more than 3.25 lakh common service centres spread across the country and they will have to pay low premium for this. The government will make a matching contribution to the subscriber’s account.
Javadekar said there was a target to bring at least five crore small traders under this scheme in the next three years. He said there was a bid to bring more people under the social security scheme, while citing that more than 40 lakh workers from the unorganised sector had already joined the pension scheme, which was launched earlier.
Briefing on approved schemes for farmers, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “Now, the revised scheme envisages to cover around 2 crore more farmers increasing the coverage of the PM-Kisan to around 14.5 crore beneficiaries.”
The Rs 75,000 crore PM-Kisan was announced in the interim budget under which the government decided to provide Rs 6,000 per year (in three equal instalments) to an estimated around 12.5 crore small and marginal farmers holding land up to 2 hectares. So far, the first instalment has been given to only 3.11 crore beneficiaries and second to 2.66 crore beneficiaries, as many states did not provide the data of eligible farmers, Tomar said.
In case of pension schemes, after the subscriber’s death, the spouse of the beneficiary will be entitled to receive 50% of the pension amount, provided he/she is not already a beneficiary of the scheme. Farmers can use benefits under PM-Kisan scheme for the making contribution under the pension scheme.