The Union Cabinet on Friday approved the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana to all eligible farmer families, irrespective of the size of their landholding. The Cabinet met for the first time on Friday under the new government.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 57 other Cabinet ministers had taken oath at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Thursday.
The scheme for farmers was launched by Modi on February 24. Under the original scheme, households with agricultural landholdings smaller than two hectares were eligible to receive Rs 6,000 annually as direct benefit transfers from the Centre.
As many as 3.11 crore small farmers have so far received the first tranche of Rs 2,000 each under the scheme, and 2.75 crore have got the second instalment too, the government said. The extension of the scheme will increase its coverage to 14.5 crore farmers, an addition of 2.5 crore, the government claimed.
The Centre added that the revised scheme will cost the government Rs 87,217.50 crore for 2019-’20. The announcement came on a day when data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation indicated that the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector shrank by 0.1% during the January to March quarter.
The Cabinet also cleared pension schemes for farmers and traders. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Pension Yojana will provide a minimum fixed pension of Rs 3,000 per month to farmers above the age of 60. The Centre and the farmer will contribute an equal amount to the pension fund. Farmers can also opt to allow their contributions to the fund to be made from the PM-Kisan Yojana.
The scheme envisages pension cover to five crore small and marginal farmers in the first three years. The Centre will spend Rs 10,774.50 crore on the scheme.
The government also announced a pension scheme for traders. All shopkeepers, retail traders and self-employed persons will get Rs 3,000 per month after the age of 60 years, the government said. However, these entities should have an annual Goods and Services Tax turnover of less than Rs 1.5 crore.
Those between the ages of 18 and 40 are eligible to apply for this scheme, and can do so by enrolling themselves through 3.25 lakh Common Service Centres around the country, the government said.
Scholarship scheme extended to children of martyrs
The Cabinet also approved a change in the Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme under the National Defence Fund. The Centre approved an increase in scholarship from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 for boys and Rs 2,250 to Rs 3,000 for girls, a press release said.
The Centre extended the scholarship scheme to the children of state police officials who were killed during terrorist or Maoist attacks. “The quota of new scholarships for wards of state police officials will be 500 in a year,” it said.
“Our Government’s first decision dedicated to those who protect India!” Modi tweeted. “Major changes approved in PM’s Scholarship Scheme under the National Defence Fund including enhanced scholarships for wards of police personnel martyred in terror or Maoist attacks.”