Currently, the government is distributing KALIA assistance for the Rabi season.
Almost a year after launching its agriculture livelihood assistance scheme KALIA with great fanfare, the Odisha government has decided to bank on the money under the Centre’s PM-Kisan to fund 60 per cent of the annual Rs 10,000 assistance to farmers promised under KALIA.
The cut in its support component, to be put into effect by the next financial year, could save the state government hundreds of crores in a year. Currently, the government is distributing KALIA assistance for the Rabi season.
In December last year, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced his cabinet’s approval to Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme under which Rs 10,180 crore will be spent over three years for providing financial assistance to cultivators and landless agricultural labourers in the state.
Move may lead to blowback
Considered a “gamechanger” ahead of the simultaneous general elections to Lok Sabha and Odisha Assembly, KALIA had managed to placate agrarian unrest in Odisha. KALIA helped the BJD secure a fifth continuous mandate in the state despite a major campaign by BJP that had also questioned whether the state could afford the scheme. BJD leaders expressed apprehension that the cuts to KALIA could result in blowback from farmers who expect Rs 16,000 per annum — a combined sum of PM-Kisan and KALIA assistance — but will now receive Rs 10,000.
Under KALIA, financial assistance of Rs 25,000 is to be provided over five crop seasons to small and marginal farmers to buy seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and for labour and other investments. This means each beneficiary is supposed to receive Rs 10,000 per year.
This assistance is meant for farmers owning less than two hectares of agricultural land. Over 36 lakh farmers had received Rs 5,000 each under KALIA in the first crop season after its announcement.
The state government on Friday confirmed that the amount of assistance per year will fall to Rs 4,000 per year. Specifically asked if KALIA assistance for farmer will be cut by 60 per cent, Agriculture Department Principal Secretary Saurav Garg said, “The farmer continues to get Rs 10,000. The only difference is now he is getting Rs 4,000 under KALIA and Rs 6,000 under PM Kisan.”
“The state government had earlier promised that an eligible farmer will receive Rs 10,000 per year. That remains unchanged,” he said. A government note said, “Keeping parity of both the schemes (KALIA and PM Kisan), the small and marginal farmers may be given.Rs 4,000 per year from 2020-21, so that they will get Rs 10,000 annually i.e Rs 6,000 from PM Kisan.”
On Thursday, state Agriculture Minister Arun Sahoo had told journalists, “KALIA and PM Kisan will have a convergence. KALIA will continue.”
Asked if a farmer will receive payment from KALIA and PM Kisan simultaneously, Garg said, “They are separate but parallel.”
He said all other components of financial assistance under KALIA will remain “unchanged as they are not offered under PM Kisan”. KALIA also provides financial assistance of Rs12,500 to each landless agricultural household for activities allied to agriculture, such as goat-rearing units, mini-layer unit, duck units, fishery kits for fisherman, mushroom cultivation and beekeeping.