Tamil Nadu

Farmers flag lacunae in pension scheme

Land records not updated; dedicated wing of officials needed to implement programme

Even as the State government intensifies its efforts to roll out the Central scheme of old age pension for small and marginal farmers, leaders of the farming community have voiced their concern over “shortcomings” in the scheme.

Farmers’ leaders feel the scheme, though well intentioned, may not yield the desired results in view of “likely exclusion” of a large number of intended beneficiaries.

Called the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana (PM-KMDY), the scheme is voluntary and contributory for those farmers in the age group of 18 to 40 years. A monthly pension of ₹ 3,000 will be provided to them on attaining the age of 60 years.

Each beneficiary will have to make a monthly contribution of ₹ 55 to ₹ 200, depending on his or her age of entry, to the pension fund till he or she reaches the age of 60 years. The Centre will make an equal contribution to the pension fund.

As of now, around 9,000 farmers have been enrolled in Tamil Nadu under the scheme. Even though neither a time limit nor a target has been set, a senior official of the State Agriculture Department says his department is hopeful of reaching the figure of two lakhs in two months.

P. R. Pandian, an agriculturist based out of Mannargudi and president of the Tamil Nadu Federation of All Farmers’ Associations, complains that land records concerning agriculturists have not been updated and this has come in the way of the scheme providing its benefits to many deserving farmers.

Besides, there must be a dedicated wing of officials dealing with the implementation of such a welfare scheme for agriculturists. The present arrangement of getting the scheme carried out through the existing set of officials of Agriculture and Revenue departments will also “hamper the effective functioning” of the scheme, he adds.

Age group

Referring to the entry age group of the scheme, K.M. Rama Goundar, president of the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam and a farmer based out of Karugur near Krishnagiri, feels that older farmers should have also been brought under the scheme.

“After all, where do you have young farmers? A majority or most of the farmers are aged more than 40 years,” he says, suggesting that even the amount of contribution be enhanced correspondingly for such farmers.

Responding to their concerns, the official says the records were updated in a big way early this year when the enrolment of beneficiaries was made for another Central scheme ‘PM Kisan Samman Nidhi’ (PM-KISAN), an income support of ₹ 6,000 a year for all types of farmers, regardless of the size of landholding.

This was why 10 lakh farmers were brought additionally under the PM-KISAN in the last three months, even though one half of them belongs to the category of “big farmers,” the official points out.

At present, the total number of beneficiaries in Tamil Nadu under this scheme is around 31.6 lakh, according to the scheme’s portal, http://www.pmkisan.gov.in, even though the State government claims that the data concerning 34.21 lakh farmers have been uploaded. Till now, an amount of ₹1,189 crore has been released to farmers.

As for the stipulation on the entry age for the old age pension scheme, another senior official points out it is a “policy decision” of the Centre.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 7:02:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/farmers-flag-lacunae-in-pension-scheme/article29311830.ece

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