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Will KCR's agricultural initiatives for Telangana farmers make his national pitch stronger?

Rythu Bandhu Scheme is not like other loan waiver schemes where intermediaries make a killing.

 |  3-minute read |   24-05-2018
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Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao is hopeful of stealing the thunder by giving away a grant of Rs 4,000 an acre for a crop season to all those who have farmland in the state.

The unique investment support, Rythu Bandhu Scheme (RBS), covering 10,047 villages in 30 districts, excluding urban Hyderabad, involved handing out personalised cheques and new pattadar passbooks with unique security features, including Aadhaar linkage.

It aims to ensure that the actual owners get the money, unlike in the loan waiver, and other pro-farmer schemes where intermediaries make a killing. KCR has, after going through a loan waiver scheme earlier in his tenure, opted for the novel investment support scheme offering a grant to farmers so that they decide what they want to buy with it. This is after several weeks of planning and preparation to reach funds and passbooks, across the state. The original one-week schedule, which was extended, made it possible for 99 of every 100 beneficiaries to get the cash entitlement and the new pattadar passbooks by May 20. Of the 2.9 crore acre land in the state, about 2.38 crore acre have been verified and about 1.4 crore acre was verified as cultivable land during the 100-day land purification exercise last year.

RBS covers all farm land owners but excludes tenant farmers. While some rich farmers have returned the cheques or suggested that their entitlement be transferred to the CM’s relief fund, the Telangana CM has announced fresh measures to alleviate their distress. He has tasked the farmers’ coordination committees at different levels to play a pro-active role in resolving the issues faced by farmers.

KCR intends to mount pressure on the Union government to enhance the minimum support price (MSP) for agricultural produce by at least 25 per cent.

kcr-1_052418094401.jpgKCR interacts with farmers in Rajendranagar. (Photo: Mohammed Aleemuddin)

When rolling out RBS — a balm for 57,33,000 farmers — at Chelpur in Huzurabad mandal, on May 10, KCR announced that farmers would also enjoy an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh from June 2 — the Telangana State Formation Day.

“Apart from these incentives, when we complete the irrigation projects, the state will cultivate three crops a year,” said KCR, exuding confidence about his initiatives redefining the future of agriculture in the country. The TRS intends to piggyback on this massive vote corpus — set to drain the state exchequer of Rs 12,000 crore a year — and enable KCR make his national pitch of providing an alternative to the BJP-steered NDA and the Congress-driven UPA.

KCR wants a national coalition of strong regional parties to rule the country for balanced growth of all states which the national parties have failed to achieve. Political detractors are not impressed.

kcr_inside_052418094420.jpgKCR at his farm in Medak district. Photo : A Prabhakar Rao

Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee president N Uttam Kumar Reddy described RBS as an election gimmick. "The TRS government has become a curse on farmers. After he announced that he would waive Rs1 lakh of agricultural loans in one go, KCR divided it into four phases and the process is still incomplete. What is worse, some 4,000 farmers committed suicide but the state has not paid compensation to their families," said Reddy, promising the Congress will waive loans totalling to Rs 2 lakh each in one go for all farmers, on assuming office after the next elections.

It is not guaranteed if all these positive strokes will help propel KCR into creating an enduring national coalition. But the initiatives will certainly make agriculture a part of the election discourse and get farmers lip sympathy.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

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Writer

Amarnath K Menon Amarnath K Menon @amarnathkmenon

The writer is Hyderabad-based and senior editor, India Today.

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