Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Though the Odisha government is trying to earn brownie points by distributing financial assistance to the small, marginalized, and landless farmers under the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme, the dwindling number of beneficiaries under the scheme has raised questions over the intention of the State government.

The State government is not providing financial assistance to the number of beneficiaries as per the announcement; rather several beneficiaries are getting omitted from the list every year. As many as nine lakh beneficiaries have been omitted from the list over the years so far. As a result, resentment is brewing among the farmers against the State government.

On the other hand, thousands of farmers are getting deprived of the PM Kisan scheme as the State government is not providing complete information about the beneficiaries to the Centre. Opposition parties have slammed the State government over such lapses.

Though the government had earlier announced that financial assistance would be provided to 75 lakh farmers in the State under the KALIA scheme, only 44 lakh beneficiaries are currently getting the assistance.

When Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik came to power in 2019 for the fifth time, he announced in his budget speech to provide financial assistance to 75 lakh farmers in the State under the KALIA scheme. However, financial assistance was only provided to 51 lakh beneficiaries under the scheme in the same year.

Moreover, as per the advertisement published by the government in 2020-21, financial assistance under the scheme was distributed to 53 lakh farmers. After three years, the government advertisement released on Wednesday suggested that only 44 lakh beneficiaries received the assistance, around nine lakh beneficiaries less than the last disbursement.

In 2022, the government found 1,06,000 beneficiaries ineligible for the scheme and ordered them to return the financial assistance provided to them. That means those beneficiaries were omitted from the list last year. The number of beneficiaries has further dwindled this year to 44 lakh.
Now questions are being raised on why the number of beneficiaries under the scheme is decreasing. Several omitted beneficiaries from the list under the scheme have expressed their resentment.

“I only got one installment under the KALIA scheme and then my name was omitted from the list of the beneficiaries. I do farming on around five to six acres of land to earn my livelihood. I am still clueless as to why my name was omitted from the list,” said a farmer.

“Even the authorities are clueless about the omissions in the list of the beneficiaries. Eligible beneficiaries are getting deprived of the scheme,” rued another farmer.

Making things worse for several eligible beneficiaries, who have been omitted under the KALIA scheme, the State government has allegedly deprived them of availing the PM Kisan scheme provided by the Union government.

While 44 lakh beneficiaries in the State are currently availing the KALIA scheme, only 30,06,792 beneficiaries are getting assistance under the PM Kisan scheme. Many are now questioning why the State government is not providing the list of the beneficiaries under the KALIA scheme to the Centre.

Earlier, the Odisha government had announced financial assistance of Rs 10,000 under the Kalia scheme. However, following the announcement of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme by the Union government, the Odisha government merged both schemes. Subsequently, the State government decided to provide the same amount of financial assistance to the beneficiaries including Rs 6,000 provided by the Centre. 

Opposition parties have slammed the ruling BJD over the development.

“If the Odisha government doesn’t have money to provide financial assistance to the farmers under the scheme, the State government should provide the list of 75 lakh beneficiaries to the Centre. Those beneficiaries can get financial assistance of Rs 6,000 under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme every year. The State government should not deceive the farmers anymore,” said BJP leader Pradip Purohit.

“Ruling BJD is only doing vote bank politics considering the upcoming General Elections. They don’t have any kind of concern for the farmers. People of Odisha are now aware of their tactics and they will give a proper reply in the upcoming election,” said Odisha Congress President, Sarat Pattanayak.

However, the ruling BJD brushed aside the allegations by Opposition parties.

“Naveen Patnaik government is always concerned about the welfare of farmers in the State. Eligible farmers are availing the benefits under the KALIA scheme,” said BJD leader Amar Satpathy.