As farmers in West Bengal received the first instalment of funds under the PM-KISAN scheme on Friday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at the Centre, accusing it of dilly-dallying over the transfer of funds to beneficiaries in the state.
In an open letter to farmers, Banerjee also said the decision to extend the benefits of the scheme to eligible farmers in Bengal was a result of her government’s continuous fight.
“In 2018, the West Bengal government had started the Krishak Bandhu scheme which went on to become a model for the entire country. After this, in 2019, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi was launched. Comparatively, the state-run programme is better because it offers more benefits to farmers… we are planning to add more to our scheme in the near future,” she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday released the eighth instalment of over Rs 20,000 crore to more than 9.5 crore farmer beneficiaries under the scheme via video- conferencing.
About 7.03 lakh farmers of the state received the first instalment of Rs 2,000 in their bank accounts, Modi said.
Meanwhile, the West Bengal Home Department later said the state was not invited to be a part of the PM’s event.
“It is clarified that West Bengal did not receive any invitation for the PM Kisan fund release programme today,” the department tweeted.
“Due to demand and actions of CM and GOWB, 7 lakh farmers of West Bengal got their due entitlement, the first instalment of Kisan Samman Nidhi today by direct transfer as per data submitted by State. State will fight for its farmers,” it added.
A source in the department claimed that the Centre not sending invites for such events has become common practice. “The Bengal government considers today’s snub as an insult as there were representatives of other states,” he said.
Under the programme launched in 2019, the central government is providing Rs 6,000 in three equal installments to 14 crore farmers annually. The amount is transferred into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries through the direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode.
Banerjee had on May 6 written to Modi, urging him to call upon the Union Agriculture Ministry to release the funds to farmers of the state.
“You all were supposed to get Rs 18,000, but have received a very small amount. Even this sum would not have been transferred had we not fought for it. We will continue this fight till you get the entire allocation,” the CM asserted.
The scheme was not implemented till now in West Bengal as the state government and the Centre were at loggerheads over various issues, including verified data of farmers.
The state’s Krishak Bandhu scheme provides farmers with one or more acres of landholding an annual amount of Rs 5,000 (minimum Rs 2,000 per annum assistance on pro-rata basis). PTI