Spike in beneficiaries noticed last Aug.
Tamil Nadu accounts for two-thirds of the amount recovered, at the national level, from ineligible farmers who were given income support under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme, a perusal of Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s reply in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday revealed.
As on January 22, a sum of ₹231.76 crore had been recovered from ineligible farmers across the country. Of this, around ₹158.57 crore was from Tamil Nadu, according to an annexure attached to the Union Minister’s reply, in response to a question by four Members of Parliament on the status of implementation and coverage of the scheme.
In Tamil Nadu, the total number of ineligible farmers identified was nearly 6.97 lakh. These farmers were paid around ₹321.32 crore. This meant that about 50% of what was given to the ineligible farmers had been recovered.
Last August, a “sharp spike” in the registration of beneficiaries was noticed by the State Agriculture Department, as there was a rise of four lakh beneficiaries in four-five months. A syndicate of operators in private computer centres in several northern districts was suspected to be behind the scam. Later, officials launched a drive to recover money from the ineligible beneficiaries.
Income-tax payees are among the ineligible beneficiaries under the scheme, which envisages payment of ₹6,000, in three equal installments in a year, to farmers, regardless of the size of landholding. Other types of ineligible persons include professionals and pensioners, drawing a monthly pension of ₹10,000 or more. Across the country, about ₹2,327 crore was paid to around 33 lakh ineligible beneficiaries.
In Tamil Nadu, the total number of beneficiaries was approximately 45.54 lakh farmers. Putting together payments under all installments since the launch of the scheme in February 2019, the farmers have received ₹5,141.65 crore. At the all-India level, there are 10.74 crore beneficiaries, to whom over ₹1.15 lakh crore has been paid.