THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as 17,431 farmers from the state will have to repay the cash dole given by the Central government under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan), an income support scheme for farmers. The state agriculture department has issued repayment notices to them after the verification by both the state and central governments found that they were ineligible to receive the assistance.
Speaking to TNIE, a senior agriculture directorate officer said the verification by the state government has found that 2,295 farmers who applied for the scheme and drawing PM-Kisan payment were ineligible, while a preliminary scrutiny by the Central government on the income tax database revealed that 15,136 beneficiaries of the scheme in Kerala are income tax payers, who are not eligible.
The operational guidelines of the scheme stipulate that families with taxpayers, serving and retired government staff, professionals like doctors, engineers, lawyers, chartered accountants and architects registered with professional bodies, MLAs, MPs etc are not eligible for income support under the scheme.
“There are 37 lakh beneficiaries of the scheme in Kerala. The department has been verifying around 10 per cent of the database of farmers by cross-checking their credentials. The Centre has asked the state to start recovery measures after a scrutiny of the income tax database found that 15,136 beneficiaries are ineligible for the cash benefit under the scheme. Following this, the state government communicated to ineligible farmers and most of them expressed readiness to cooperate with the government. Those who are not ready to repay the amount received will have to face measures like revenue recovery. For the time being, however, the Centre has not asked the state to start revenue recovery measures,” he said.
The scheme envisages providing a cash dole of Rs 6,000 to over 37 lakh farmers in the state in three instalments directly to their Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, a condition set by the government to reduce fraud and pilferage in the biggest farmer scheme till date.