Adilabad: Since the establishment of the Rythu Bandhu scheme in 2018 by the KCR government, only 5,118 farmers have opted out of the scheme, information collected under the RTI (right to information) law has revealed.

The Agriculture Commissioner, Telangana, gave this information a few days ago when Md. Jabeer of Adilabad requested information under the RTI Act on the district details of farmers who abandoned Rythu Bandhu.

However, officials did not disclose the names of farmers who gave up Rythu Bandhu or the size of land that farmers who obtain Rythu Bandhu hold.

Jabeer says the state government is hiding the information because it would expose wealthy landowners and political leaders who hold vast tracts of land and are demanding millions of rupees from the government under Rythu Bandhu.

The TRS government had launched a ‘Give It Up’ campaign in mid-2020, encouraging wealthy farmers to give up the ₹5,000 per acre financial aid that the government had given to all farmers regardless of their holdings land. The government hoped that this could relieve the huge financial burden that the Rythu Bandhu project had placed on the national treasury.

When the scheme was launched in 2018, 70.53 lakh farmers were chosen to receive Rythu Bandhu. As the program began to impose a huge burden, officials suggested a cap on the extent of land held by a farmer to be eligible for Rythu Bandhu. The idea was that only small farmers or marginal farmers who really need help would receive Rythu Bandhu. This way, the load on the chessboard would be less. But the proposal was not accepted, because it could attract a political reaction.

All the government did was stop paying Rythu Bandhu to farmers who were caught growing ganja or marijuana on their land.

So far, the state government has given Rythu Bandhu for 10 seasons in the state resulting in total expenditure of ₹65,559 crore till Rabi 2022. Currently, 70.46 lakh farmers in the state are given the input subsidy of ₹5,000 per acre under Rythu Bandhu. The extent of land to which the grant is granted is 1.53 crore acres.

There are only 24 lakh farmers with less than two acres of farmland who get Rythu Bandhu. This leads to suspicion that big landlords and political leaders are hoarding huge amounts under Rythu Bandhu. An overwhelming majority of them did not drop out of the program despite the appeal of a state government with limited resources.

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