Hyderabad: The Telangana government on Monday launched a 5 lakh insurance programme for farmers in the state, touted to be the first of its kind, under which their families will get the amount irrespective of whether the death is natural or accidental.

The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has launched the scheme with the aim of getting the support of the farming community before the 2019 state and parliamentary elections.

However, the scheme is limited to farmers aged between 18 and 60 years. The Rythu Bandhu Life Insurance Bonds (as the scheme is called), which is expected to benefit 2.8 million farmers (out of 5.8 million), will cover only land owners who received monetary assistance of 4,000 from the state government to bear farming costs under the “Rythu Bandhu" programme earlier this year.

On Monday, Telangana agriculture minister Pocharam Srinivas distributed the life insurance bonds to farmers in Kamareddy district, while officials from the agriculture department took up distribution in other parts of the state. Most of the bonds are expected to be given to farmers by 15 September, said a senior official of the department who did not want to be named.

Earlier, the state government had distributed cheques of 4,000 under the Rythu Bandhu programme to about 5.8 million land-holding farmers to bear farming costs such as purchase of fertilizers and seeds. However, tenant farmers, who have been demanding to be added under the scheme ever since it was introduced, have been left out of it. Chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao himself had rejected their inclusion in it, stating it cannot be done as tenant farmers cannot be verified and that they have no rights over the lands.

“The insurance amount in case of death or accident will be given to a farmer’s family in 10 days itself. Roughly 650 crore has been invested for the Rythu Bandhu Life Insurance Bonds," said K. Vijaya Kumar, additional director, Telangana state agriculture department.

The scheme is continuous, as eligible farmers will be added and those who become ineligible (after crossing 60 years) will be removed from it, he said.

The schemes have both been launched in the last one year and are seen as the TRS government’s major outreach to the farming community.

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