Chhattisgarh government transfers outstanding paddy bonus to nearly 12 lakh farmers

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Representational file image.

Representational file image.
| Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Vishnu Deo Sai-led Bharatiya Janata Party government of Chhattisgarh on Monday transferred the outstanding bonus to nearly 12 lakh paddy farmers, pending from two years of the party’s last stint in power [2013-18]. 

In 2018, the non-payment of the said bonus was seen as a pivotal factor that broke the BJP’s sequence of State election victories in the predominantly rural State. Attempting a course correction, the party had highlighted it as a key poll promise in the run up to last month’s Assembly polls.

Also read: 2023 Chhattisgarh Assembly elections | Lokniti-CSDS post-poll study

After assuming power, it was one of the first announcements made by Mr. Sai, with his Cabinet choosing December 25, the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as the date for crediting the amount to the beneficiary farmers.

“We had promised the farmers of Chhattisgarh that as soon as the government is formed in Chhattisgarh, we will give the outstanding bonus of two years to the farmers. I am very happy to tell that today we have transferred ₹3,716 crore to more than 12 lakh farmers of Chhattisgarh. The money has reached all the banks where farmers have accounts,” said Mr. Sai at a bonus amount distribution ceremony organised in the village Bendri of Abhanpur, on the outskirts of Raipur city.

On the occasion, Mr. Sai also interacted with a few farmers gathered at the venue and via video conferencing. Some of those farmers, who received anywhere between a few thousand to several lakhs, said they had not thought the money would eventually be credited; with this money in hand, they can now plan for purchases or service loans.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress has questioned the disbursal and the methodology, calling the exercise a deceit.

“The two-year bonus issued by the BJP government is also a deceit with the farmers. At present, the government has not done physical verification of the number of farmers nor has it ascertained the current status of the registered accounts for 2015-2016, 2016-2017. Hence, there is no guarantee that all the eligible farmers will get the bonus amount,” said Chhattisgarh Congress spokesperson Sushil Anand Shukla.

Paddy procurement

Another key agro promise made by the BJP was buying paddy at the rate of ₹3,100 per quintal and buying 21 qunitals of paddy per acre. However, the elections took place while procurement (under the criteria set by the previous government) had started. By the time the poll results were declared, many had already sold their crop.

Since then, there have been doubts and confusion over how the BJP’s promises would be implemented. Responding to the question over the same, Mr. Sai said that the procurement window [which closes on January 31, 2024 under the existing order] would be extended if necessary.

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