Nagpur (Maharashtra) – The Opposition Shiv Sena (UBT) has slammed the Centre for the lapse and return of over Rs 1 lakh crore of funds intended for farmers’ welfare in the last five years, here on Monday.
SS-UBT National Spokesperson Kishore Tiwari and farm activist said that while farmers’ suicides are on the rise and the government has hiked the budgetary allocation, the Union Agriculture Ministry has failed to utilise the sanctioned funds and surrendered it back to the government coffers.
“It is sad and shocking that despite lakhs of farmers having committed suicide all over India in the past few years, the Centre has not been sympathetic to their cause. We have consistently been saying that the government is playing game of ‘jumlas’ with farmers, now its own figures are proving us right,” said Tiwari grimly.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Tiwari questioned his silence on this “extreme negligence” by the Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Ministry while ignoring the plight of distressed farmers across India.
Citing official data from the Centre, the SS-UBT leader said that the ministry and its various departments failed to utilise the amounts totalling to over Rs 1 Lakh-crore which could have brought relief to the suffering peasants.
Tiwari said that as per a report of the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare for 2022-2023, last year it surrendered Rs 21,005 crore of its annual allocation of Rs 1.24 lakh-crore.
In 2021-2022, against the allocation of Rs 1.23 lakh-crore, it surrendered Rs 5,153 crore, and in the previous three years, the figures were Rs 23,825 crore (2020-2021), Rs 34,518 crore (2019-2020) and Rs 21,044 crore (2018-2019) – all totalling to over Rs 1 lakh-crore in the last five years, he said.
Tiwari said that the ministry’s Department of Agricultural Research & Education has also returned Rs 9 lakh, Rs 1.81 crore, Rs 600 crore, Rs 233 crore and Rs 7.9 crore respectively in the last five years, effectively depriving the tillers and their children of various benefits.
The SS-UBT leader said that instead of resorting to election-oriented gimmicks, making big announcements without the accompanying funds and boosting a few corporates, the government should monitor whether the public money allocated for critical sectors like farming is actually utilised or not, how and to what extent.
“We demand that the PM and the Agriculture Minister give an explanation to the farming community on why they were not given the benefits of the schemes and the funds allocated to them were deliberately allowed to lapse and hence returned to the central coffers,” Tiwari said, vowing the Opposition will raise it in the forthcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.