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RTI reveals 5,118 farmers have foregone Rythu Bandhu scheme

Adilabad: Since the inception of Rythu Bandhu scheme in 2018 by the KCR government, only 5,118 farmers have foregone benefitting from the scheme, information collected under the RTI (Right to Information) Act has revealed.

Commissioner of Agriculture, Telangana, gave this information a few days ago when Md. Jabeer of Adilabad asked for information under RTI Act about district-wise details of farmers who have given up Rythu Bandhu.

However, officials did not part with names of farmers who had given up the Rythu Bandhu or size of lands farmers who are getting Rythu Bandhu are holding.

Jabeer says state government is hiding the information, as it would expose rich landlords and political leaders who are holding vast extents of land and claiming from government crores of rupees under Rythu Bandhu.

TRS government had in mid-2020 launched a “Give it up” campaign, encouraging rich farmers to forego the financial assistance of ₹5,000 per acre that government had been giving to all farmers irrespective of their landholdings. The hope of the government was that this could provide a relief from the huge financial burden that the Rythu Bandhu scheme had been causing on the state exchequer.

When the scheme was launched in 2018, 70.53 lakh farmers had been chosen for receiving Rythu Bandhu. As the scheme started incurring a huge burden, officials suggested a ceiling on extent of land held by a farmer for being eligible for Rythu Bandhu. The idea had been that only small or marginal farmers who actually need help would be given Rythu Bandhu. That way the burden on exchequer would be lesser. But the proposal had not been accepted, as this could attract a political backlash.

All that the government did was stop payment of Rythu Bandhu to those farmers who had been caught growing ganja or marijuana on their lands. 

So far, the state government has given Rythu Bandhu for 10 seasons in the state, incurring total expenditure of ₹65,559 crore up to Rabi 2022. Currently, 70.46 lakh farmers in the state are getting the input subsidy of ₹5,000 per acre under Rythu Bandhu. The extent of land to which subsidy is being provided is 1.53 crore acres.

There are only 24 lakh farmers with less than two acres of agricultural land who are getting Rythu Bandhu. This is leading to suspicions that big landlords and political leaders are cornering huge amounts under Rythu Bandhu. An overwhelming majority of them have not given up the scheme despite the appeal of resource-constricted state government.

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