West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Thursday said she has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to advise the Union Agriculture Ministry to release funds under the PM-Kisan scheme to farmers in the state.
This came days after Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar wrote to the chief minister, asking her to direct state officials to take swift action to facilitate transfer of the fund into the accounts of eligible farmers in Bengal.
The scheme, under which Rs 6,000 is directly deposited into the accounts of the farmers in three equal installments a year, figured prominently in the recent assembly election campaign, with the BJP and TMC accusing each other of blocking the funds.
BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister, had alleged that the TMC government blocked the funds in Bengal, and promised payment of Rs 18,000 – including arrears – to each eligible farmer in Bengal if elected to power. The TMC said the state government had already done the needful, and accused the Centre of delaying the funds.
“I have written to the Prime Minister. I hope the funds under PM-Kisan scheme will be released soon. They said Rs 18,000 will be given to the farmers. Five months ago, we uploaded the names of the recipients on the central government portal and made all arrangements,” Banerjee said at a press conference Thursday.
In her letter to the Prime Minister, she wrote: “Out of the 21.79 lakh farmers who registered for the scheme as per the letter of the Union Agriculture Minister sent last November, 14.91 lakh data have been updated on the portal, which were duly verified and of which 9.84 lakh data are ready for PFMS [Public Finance Management System].”
A source in the Union Agriculture Ministry told The Indian Express that the West Bengal government wants money to be released to it instead of the beneficiaries’ accounts, which is against the guidelines of PM-Kisan. Under the scheme, the money is to be deposited into the accounts of the eligible farmers only through DBT. The official said the Centre will release the funds when the state government completes the process as per the guidelines.
Banerjee’s statement follows a letter Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar wrote to her a day after the assembly election results were announced. Congratulating her on the victory, Tomar wrote, “I have requested to you earlier several times that about 69 lakh farmers of the state have been deprived of PM-Kisan….”
The Centre had launched the PM-Kisan scheme in 2018-19, which the West Bengal government had refused to accept.
“Only farmers of West Bengal are deprived of this scheme across India, therefore, I again request you direct the state government officials to take swift action as per the guidelines of the scheme,” Tomar wrote.