Hyderabad: All land-owning farmers in Telangana will get Rs4,000 per acre to help them with costs like fertilizers and seeds, according an ambitious input subsidy scheme slated to kick off in May.

While the scheme seeks to ease farmer distress, it does not take into account tenant farmers. This, critics say, beats the whole purpose of the scheme as a huge chunk of land-owners lease out their farm lands to tenant farmers every year.

Surprisingly, the government says it does not know how many tenant farmers there are in Telangana.

A senior official from the state’s agriculture department, who was not willing to be identified, said that as of now there is no provision to include tenant farmers. “The purpose of the scheme is to give input support and to make land owners active farmers. That is why we are providing the monetary benefit," he said, adding that there are about six million farmers overall across the state.

The input subsidy scheme will be implemented once the state government completes its ongoing survey to verify and update agricultural land records.

The survey began on 15 September 2017, and was supposed to be completed by last December, but is now expected to be finished in the next few months. The survey is being carried out in 10,733 revenue villages.

The non-inclusion of tenant farmers has drawn criticism from different quarters. Kiran Vissa from the Rythu Swarajya Vedika—an organisation that works on farmer issues in the state—said that data from 2013-14 showed that the state government had set a target of distributing 415,000 licenced land cultivators (LEC) cards, which are issued to tenant farmers for bank loans.

“The targets are partial and the number of tenant farmers are much higher. A land owner is already getting money because the tenant farmer pays him rent, and if there is a loss of crop, then the latter bears that too. This is nothing but extra income to the land-owning farmers," stated Kiran.

Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) chairman Prof. M. Kodandarm also said that about 119,000 farmers have also applied to regularise their land records, which have not been updated. “In the past, a person would sell or buy land based on a hand-written deed on an empty piece of paper. Even this has to be looked into," he noted.

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