PM-KISAN payments worth ₹1,364 crore have been wrongly made to more than 20 lakh ineligible beneficiaries and income tax payer farmers, according to information provided by the Agriculture Ministry in response to an RTI request from activist Venkatesh Nayak.
There are 11 crore beneficiaries registered under the scheme.
Punjab tops the list of States, accounting for 23% of those who wrongly received money. Maharashtra and Assam also saw large numbers of such payments. As The Hindu had reported, a number of State Agriculture Departments have now been tasked with recovering the money wrongly paid.
PM-KISAN is the Centre’s flagship scheme to provide income support worth ₹6000 a year to farming families. When it was launched just before the general election in 2019, it was meant to cover only small and marginal farmers who owned less than two hectares. Later that year, large farmers were included in the scheme as the government removed land size criteria.
However, certain exclusions remained. If any member of a farming family paid income tax, received a monthly pension above ₹10,000, held a constitutional position, or was a serving or retired government employee, they were not eligible for the scheme. Professionals, and institutional landholders were also excluded.
Until July 2020, 20.5 lakh people who should have been excluded had wrongly received PM-Kisan payouts. According to the Agriculture Ministry data, 56% of these undeserving persons belonged to the “income tax payee” category, while the remainder belong to the “ineligible farmers” category. However, 72% of the payout amount was paid to the income tax payees, indicating that this category continued to receive money for multiple installments before their ineligible status was discovered and they were weeded out of the scheme’s beneficiary database.
Punjab (23%), Maharashtra (17%) and Assam (14%) account for more than half of the beneficiaries of wrong payments, followed by Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh with 8% each. Almost all the wrong payments in Punjab and Assam went to those in the “ineligible farmers” category, while Maharashtra had the highest number of payouts to “income tax payee” farmers.