The Indian Government on Tuesday informed the Parliament that the number of beneficiaries under the flagship Direct Benefit transfer (DBT) scheme, PM-Kisan has fallen 14 per cent to 9.21 crore in 2023-24 from 10.73 crore last year. If the final number of beneficiaries is contained within 9.5 crore, the annual outgo could be around ₹57,000 crore at the current rate of disbursal of ₹6,000/year. The government has made an allocation of ₹60,000 crore under PM-Kisan for FY25.

Asked whether the government was planning to increase the amount from ₹6,000 to ₹8,000/12,000 per year to farmers under the PM-Kisan scheme, Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda said, “No proposal is under consideration.” According to the last agriculture survey, as many as 86 per cent of about 14 crore land-owning farmers have less than 5 hectares of land.

The Minister said in the Lok Sabha that a farmer-centric digital infrastructure has ensured the benefits of the scheme reach all the farmers across the country without any involvement of the middlemen. “Maintaining absolute transparency in registering and verifying beneficiaries, the Indian government has disbursed over ₹2.81 lakh crore to more than 11 crore farmers in 15 instalments, so far,” he said.

Weeding out ineligible ones

According to the data placed in the House, Punjab tops among major agriculture producing States where maximum number of beneficiaries have been dropped — 45 per cent — to 9.34 lakh in 2023-24 from 17.08 lakh last year while Maharashtra has seen a drop of 11.5 per cent to 92.5 lakh beneficiary farmers. Uttar Pradesh, the largest state has seen a drop of 16.5 per cent to 2.03 crore.

“It is not a drop, but the actual beneficiaries have been worked out after weeding out the non-eligible beneficiaries as well as pruning any duplication after Aadhaar authentication has been made compulsory,” said an official source.

As per operational guidelines of the scheme, issued by the Centre, it is the responsibility of State government to identify and verify eligible beneficiaries. The benefit is provided to supplement financial needs of land-holding farmers. Munda said that PM-KISAN is one of the largest DBT schemes of the world.