January 21, 2024

Criminal Act of Surrender of Funds Allocated to Agriculture: AIKS

Below we publish the statement issued by the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) on January 18.

IN a shocking case of gross apathy for the plight of farmers in the country, the ministry of agriculture surrendered over Rs 1 lakh crore of unutilised funds in the last five years. This was revealed in the report from the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare titled “Accounts at a Glance for the Year 2022-23”. Such a criminal act of betrayal of the interests of farmers of India and agriculture cannot be condoned. It only exposes the Narendra Modi led BJP government’s utter insensitivity to the distressed farmers and their real intention to hand-over agriculture to the corporates. The surrender of over Rs 1 lakh crore is in a context wherein farmers have been demanding increased allocation for agriculture, infrastructure development, expansion of irrigation, price support to ensure remunerative prices and for research and extension. The standing committee on agriculture, animal husbandry, and food processing has also pointed out that the impact of such surrender of funds would adversely impact the north eastern states, Scheduled Caste Sub Plan and Scheduled Tribe Sub Plan. AIKS condemns this insensitive approach and calls for re-allocation of the same for farmers’ welfare. 

The magnitude of the problem can be understood if we look at these figures more closely. In 2018-19 the total allocation for the ministry was Rs 54,000 crore. In that year Rs 21,043.75 crore was surrendered. In 2019-20, Rs 34,517.7 crore, Rs 23,824.53 crore in 2020-21, Rs 5,152.6 crore in 2021-22 and Rs 21,005.13 crore in 2022-23. This comes to a whopping Rs 1,05,543.71 crore in total that is even more than the total allocation for agriculture in some of the years from 2018-19 to 2022-23.

Notably, in the union budget 2023-24, green revolution aimed at north eastern states, advertised as a core scheme and had an allocation of Rs 6,747 crores in 2021-22 had zero allocation in the 2022-23 and 2023-24 budgets. The allocation for Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana has been drastically cut from Rs 10,433 crores to Rs 7,150 crores. The allocation for Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sinchai Yojna was cut from Rs 12,954 crores in 2022-23 BE to Rs10,787 crore in the 2023-24 budget. The much-hyped Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi also saw no increase from 2022-23 budget. The allocation is Rs 60,000 crores. If the government’s claim of about 12 crore beneficiaries is taken then at least Rs 72,000 crores should have been allocated. Even on the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in comparison with the 2022-23 budget estimates of Rs 15,500 crores the 2023-24 budget has set aside only Rs 13,625 crores. The allocation for the important market intervention and price support scheme which was Rs 1500 crores in 2022-23 revised estimates did not find any mention in the 2023-24 budget. More than Rs 842 crores meant for agricultural research has also been surrendered.

This criminal act comes at a time when suicides by farmers in distress are continuing unabated and reports of big decrease in rice production are coming in. AIKS demands that the entire amount surrendered be redeployed to ensure that agriculture in general and welfare of farmers from marginalised sections and backward regions be prioritised.