Hyderabad: More than a month after the Telangana government launched the 12,000 crore ‘Rythu Bandhu’ scheme, under which land-owning farmers are given 4,000 per acre every year to help with farming costs, agriculture department officials said that beneficiaries are not being monitored to check if they are actually using the money for agriculture.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government launched the programme on 10 May, saying it would benefit about 4.4 million farmers.

The money was distributed to them by cheque, and they were also handed newly printed Pattadar pass books, which the government claims has 17 unique security features, for proof of ownership.

However, agriculture department officials, who did not want to be identified, said that there is no framework to check how farmers are using the money.

“The chief minister has said that the money belongs to farmers. Maybe a farmer has some current expense to bear at home and has no money. So he can use what we have given and later use his personal money for agriculture," said an official who requested anonymity.

“The money is primarily being given to farmers for purchasing fertilizers and seeds, which according to our estimates, should cost about 4,000 per acre per season," he added.

Farmer organizations agreed that the government should have built a framework to specify what the money should be used for.

Tejaswi Dantuluri from the Deccan Development Society, which works with women farmers, said money from the scheme often ends up with the husbands of women farmers and not spent on agriculture.

“We have been promoting organic farming through by conserving water through rain fed crops, protecting soil health and other methods. It has been a long-pending demand of ours that the state give such farmers an incentive of 5,000. Now that it has come forward to help, some criteria should have been specified," Dantuluri added.

Kiran Kumar Vissa from the Rythu Swaraj Vedika, which works on farmer issues, also said that the problem with cash support often is that the money is not used for the intended purpose.

“Some of the non-agriculture usage may be legitimate, but the question is whether the money is being used for unnecessary expenditure which would not have happened in the first place," he added.

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