Kisan Morcha Slams Modi Govt for Surrendering Rs 1 Lakh Crore of Agriculture Budget
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Delhi: Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), a collective of farmers' unions that spearheaded the struggle against three farm laws at the borders of the national capital, on Tuesday, lambasted the Union Agriculture Ministry for surrendering over Rs 1 lakh crore during 2018-2022.
The revelation came after the annual 'Accounts at a glance for the year 2022-23' showed that the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare surrendered Rs 21005.13 crores of its annual budget of Rs 1.24 Lakh crore in the previous financial year. Apparently, it surrendered the following amounts in the subsequent years: in 2019-20, Rs 34,517.7 crore; in 2020-21, Rs 23,824.53 crore; in 2021-22, Rs 5,152.6 crore; and in 2022-23, Rs 21,005.13 crore, SKM alleged.
The issue of surrendering unutilised funds was also flagged by the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food Processing, stating that it would have a negative impact on the implementation of the Scheduled Castes Sub Plan and schemes intended for northeastern states.
It had said, "The Committee note from the reply of the Department that funds have been surrendered amounting to Rs 23,824.54 Crore, Rs 429.22 Crore and Rs 19,762.05
Crore during 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23(Tentative) respectively. That means Rs 44,015.81 Crore in total have been surrendered by the Department in these years. The Committee have been informed that the surrender of funds is mainly on
account of less requirement under NES (North Eastern States), SCSP (Schedule Caste Sub-Plan) and Tribal Area Sub-Plan (TASP) Components."
"The Committee feels that the practice of surrender of funds must be avoided by all means henceforth so that the tangible benefits accrued from the Schemes are allowed to percolate to the ground level in an optimum manner. The Committee, therefore, recommend the Department to identify avoidable reasons leading to surrender of funds and take corrective measures to ensure that the funds are utilised fully and efficiently."
In a statement, the Morcha said, "BJP has promised freedom from indebtedness to the farmers in 2014 Lok Sabha election. The Modi Government has written off Rs 14.56 lakh crores of arrears of the large corporate houses in the last ten years period. But not a single rupee of the farmers loan was waived. 1,00,474 farmers have committed suicide in the Narendra Modi years (2014-2022), as per the report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). If the Modi Government had used the surrendered money for the farmers, many of the lives could have been saved."
It added that the farmers' organisations "condemn such a criminal act of betrayal of the interests of farmers of India. SKM flays the utter insensitivity of the BJP-RSS led government to the distressed farmers and the real intention behind this is to hand over agriculture to the corporates. SKM strongly protested the anti-farmer policies of the Union Government and appealed to the people to support the struggle to end corporate loot, save agriculture and save India."
Talking to NewsClick over the phone, Ashok Dhawale, President, All India Kisan Sabha, said that the argument of Union agriculture ministry about increasing the overall budget is misleading. "The number of beneficiaries under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi has been on the decline. Similarly, the budget for MNREGA has also been cut, although there is consistent demand for work in rural areas. Mind you that the amount surrendered is not a small amount. It could have been used in building irrigation facilities, bringing down the prices of inputs in agriculture through increased subsidies. So, it is quite clear that the intention of the agriculture ministry remains to hand over the sector to the big corporates."
However, the Union Agriculture Ministry has said that the overall budget for agriculture has increased over the years with a special focus on schemes like PM Kisan Samman Nidhi and PM Fasal Bima Yojana.
In a statement published by the Press Information Bureau, the ministry said, "The Budget allocation for Department of Agriculture & Cooperation including DARE has increased manifold, it was Rs.27,662.67 crore in 2013-14 and went upto Rs.1,25,035.79 crore in 2023-24."
It added, "There are three major Central Sector Schemes, which form nearly 80% - 85% of the budget of Department of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare. PM-KISAN was launched in 2019 and more than Rs.2.81 lakh crore has been released so far to more than 11 crore farmers as on 30.11.2023 through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was launched in 2016 and in past 7 years of implementation 49.44 crore farmers applications enrolled and over 14.06 crore (provisional) farmers have received claims of over Rs.1,46,664 crore. "
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