Addressing rural distress in its first meeting on Friday, the Union Cabinet approved a new pension scheme for small and marginal farmers across the country and extended the ambit of the direct income support scheme for farmers by removing the ceiling of two hectares to cover more beneficiaries.
The Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a new central sector scheme, namely, Pradhan Mantri Kisan Pension Yojana, which is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme for all small and marginal farmers across the country with the entry age of 18 to 40 and with a provision of minimum fixed pension of Rs 3,000 on attaining the age of 60 years.
The Central government shall also contribute to the pension fund an equal amount matching the farmer's contribution.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, new Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government has done away with the benchmark of two hectares. With this, two crore farmers who were left out of the scheme (PM-KISAN) will be benefitted, he said.
The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) launched by Modi in February provides income support to small and marginal farmer families with cultivable land holding up to two hectares across the country by way of payment of Rs 6,000 per year.
So far the first instalment of three crore beneficiaries and the second instalment of 2.66 crore beneficiaries have been credited directly to the bank accounts of farmer families.
"The revised scheme will cover around two crore more farmers who were earlier left out, thus increasing the total number of beneficiaries to 14.5 crore from earlier 12.5 crore. Total Rs 87,000 crore will be given to farmers," said Tomar.
In the pension scheme, after the subscriber's death, while receiving the pension, the spouse of a beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50 per cent of the pension as family pension provided he or she is not already a small and marginal beneficiary scheme.
The government said that an interesting feature of the scheme is that a farmer can opt to allow his or her monthly contribution to the scheme to be met from benefits from the PM-KISAN directly.
The scheme also aims at covering a minimum of five crore small and marginal farmers in the first three years.