Guwahati, Aug 4: Opposition Congress Wednesday raised in the Assam assembly the issue of enlisting of names of fake farmers under the PM-Kisan scheme and demanded a CBI probe into it which led to noisy scenes in the House.
Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia alleged that names of lakhs of fake farmers have been enlisted for receiving financial benefits under the scheme. Raising the issue in the Question Hour, Saikia said "I wrote to the CBI seeking a probe into the massive scandal here. But the CBI said that they can probe only after the state government decides to give the case to them. Will the Assam government do so?" he asked.
CPI(M) MLA Manoranjan Talukdar said that not only fake farmers but reports are abundant of fake fertilisers and fake seeds which are destroying farming in the state due to inaction of the agriculture department. Agriculture Minister Atul Bora in his reply said the department conducted inquiries and took action against several officers in Barpeta, Morigaon and Biswanath districts.
"A probe was conducted by Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua and the report is with us. It was found that the farmers did not have land on their names as per the criteria but the lands are in the names of their fathers or grandfathers," he added.
To this, the entire opposition, comprising Congress, AIUDF, BPF, CPI(M) and Independent MLAs, rose to their feet and demanded a CBI probe into the massive scam. Speaker Biswajit Daimary requested the opposition several times to sit down and ask questions as per the rule of the House, but nobody listened to him.
"You have asked a question and the minister will answer. But he may not give a direct answer. Let us not waste the time of Question Hour. Within a second or minute, the government cannot take a decision (on CBI probe)," he added. This evoked sharp reactions from the opposition legislators who sought to know why the government did not give a direct answer. The Congress members waved placards with various demands like Make public the names of fake farmers' in Assamese.
Bora said "Regarding land ownership of farmers, our cabinet has taken a decision. This will lead to inclusion of many ineligible farmers in the list of PM-KISAN." In a written reply to a separate query by Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha, he said total 23,33,864 farmers across the state have received benefits under the PM-KISAN scheme during the last five years.
When Congress MLA Jakir Hussain Sikdar asked about the total number of farmers in the state, he informed the House that there are 40,61,627 cultivators, including 9,23,073 marginal farmers, as per the 2011 census report. On July 22 the Assam cabinet had decided to expand the criteria to include all farmers who have annual patta (Eksonia Patta) and cultivate land owned by temples or satras, are eligible to get land patta under Forest Rights Act, are small tea growers and are horticulture farmers in the PM-KISAN benefits.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had informed Parliament on July 20 that the Centre has to recover Rs 2,992.75 crore as on July 15 from 42.16 lakh ineligible beneficiary farmers registered for the central scheme PM-KISAN in the country, with the highest amount to be recovered from Assam. Rs 554.01 crore has to be recovered from 8.35 lakh ineligible farmers in Assam, Tomar had said.
Under the PM-KISAN scheme, launched in 2019, a financial benefit of Rs 6,000 per year is provided to the eligible farmer families, payable in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000. The fund is transferred directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.