Zia Haq
Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Prime minister Narendra Modi.(ANI)



Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the next tranche of PM-Kisan, the direct cash-transfer scheme for farmers, making payments worth Rs18,000 crore to 80 million farmers and also chat with them virtually on Christmas Day, the agriculture ministry has said.

Modi had released the first tranche in 2019 and will do so again at a time when thousands of farmers, largely from Punjab, are protesting three agricultural laws they say will hurt their livelihoods. The government says the reforms will give farmers more market access and boost investment in the farm sector.

“It will be a freewheeling conversation. The Prime Minister is likely to talk about the new farm laws and how they will benefit farmers,” an official said, requesting anonymity.

Under PM-Kisan, the government provides income support of Rs6,000 a year to farmers with valid enrolment, paid in three equal cash transfers of Rs2,000, once every four months. It was launched on February 24 2019, when the first instalment was paid.

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The Prime Minister will most likely ask them impromptu questions on how they have benefited from the scheme and “take a briefing from them on what they are growing and what else they want to see done for them ahead of the budget”, the official said.

Farmers from all over the country will be connected online for the interaction, according to the official.

The Prime Minister also intends to receive feedback on the ground realities of farming, he said.

The Modi government has ramped up its outreach to stanch a massive ongoing agitation by thousands of farmers who have encircled Delhi, calling for scrapping a set of farm reform laws.

PM Modi has frequently been explaining the benefits of the farm reforms and assuring farmers that the existing government support mechanism, including minimum support price and agriculture mandis, will continue.

“Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has expressed his feelings by writing a letter to the farmer brothers and sisters, attempting to have a polite dialogue. I request all the farmers to read it,” PM Modi had tweeted on Thursday.

Cash transfers under the programme take place every four months: December to March, April to July and August to November.