PM-Kisan: Rs 3 lakh cr disbursed to farmers since 2019

>Cabinet okaysRs 75,000 crPM-Surya Gharfor 1 cr homes

>>Royalty rates of 12 critical, strategic mineralsapproved

New Delhi: PradhanMantriKisanSammanNidhi (PM KISAN), a flagship scheme of Modi government, continues to achieve new milestones in providing financial assistance to farmer families across the country via Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).

When Prime Minister NarendraModi released the 16th installment of PM KISAN on Wednesday, the amount of monetary assistance to farmer families, till date crossed a whopping sum of Rs 3 lakh crore. More than 11 crore eligible farmer families stand to have gained the benefits of PM KISAN yojana. Out of the staggering amount, about Rs 1.75 lakh crore was transferred to farmers during the COVID period alone.

Another major accomplishment of the programme is the addition of about 90 lakh new beneficiaries to PM KISAN scheme. This happened during Modi government’s Viksit Bharat SankalpYatra when it passed through 2.60 lakh Gram Panchayats to impress upon the locals about Central welfare schemes.

PM-KISAN, an ambitious scheme of Modi government for wholesome financial security and welfare of the farmers, was launched on February 2, 2019. Under the scheme, the eligible farmer families get a monetary assistance of Rs 6000 per year, delivered in three equal instalments of Rs 2000, every four months. The benefit is transferred directly into the bank accounts of eligible beneficiaries through DBT mode, using modern digital technology.

Notably, in last five years of its operation, the scheme has achieved many milestones and received accolades from various global organisations, including the World Bank, for its sheer vision, scale, and seamless transfer of funds directly into the accounts of farmers.

A recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on farmers of Uttar Pradesh also found that the scheme didn’t have gaps or leakages. It found that the benefits transferred to majority of farmers was received in toto and there were no leakages in between.

The same study also found that the farmers receiving cash transfers under PM-KISAN were more likely to invest in buying agricultural equipment, seeds, fertilizer, and pesticides.

Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister NarendraModi, has approved PM-Surya Ghar: MuftBijliYojana with a total outlay of Rs 75,021 crore for installing rooftop solar power units and providing free electricity up to 300 units every month for one crore households, according to an official statement issued on Thursday.

The scheme provides Central financial assistance of 60 per cent of system cost for 2 kW systems and 40 per cent of additional system cost for systems between 2 to 3 kW capacity. The financial assistance will be capped at 3 kW. At current benchmark prices, this will mean Rs 30,000 subsidy for 1 kW system, Rs 60,000 for 2 kW systems, and Rs 78,000 for 3 kW systems or higher.

The households will apply for subsidy through the National Portal and will be able to select a suitable vendor for installing rooftop solar. The National Portal will assist the households in their decision-making process by providing relevant information such as appropriate system sizes, benefits calculator, vendor rating etc.

Households will be able to access collateral-free low-interest loan products of around 7 per cent at present for installation of residential RTS systems up to 3 kW.

Other highlights of the scheme include a Model Solar Village being developed in each district of the country to act as a role model for adoption of rooftop solar in rural areas, and Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions also benefiting from incentives for promoting RTS installations in their areas.

The scheme provides a component for payment security for renewable energy service company (RESCO) based models as well as a fund for innovative projects in RTS.

The scheme, announced by the Prime Minister on February 13, will enable households to save electricity bills as well as earn additional income through sale of surplus power to discoms. A 3 kW system will be able to generate more than 300 units a month on an average for a household.

The proposed scheme will result in addition of 30 GW of solar capacity through rooftop solar in the residential sector, generating 1000 BUs of electricity and resulting in reduction of 720 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions over the 25-year lifetime of rooftop systems.

It is estimated that the scheme will create around 17 lakh direct jobs in manufacturing, logistics, supply chain, sales, installation, O&M and other services, the official statement added.

The Cabinet also approved the royalty rates for 12 critical and strategic minerals – beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, gallium, indium, rhenium, selenium, tantalum, tellurium, titanium, tungsten, and vanadium.

According to an official statement issued after the meeting, this completes the exercise of the rationalisation of royalty rates for all 24 critical and strategic minerals.

The government had earlier notified the royalty rate of 4 critical minerals: glauconite, potash, molybdenum, and platinum group of minerals on March 15, 2022 and of 3 critical minerals, viz., lithium, niobium, and rare earth elements on October 12, 2023.

Critical minerals are used for making high-tech products ranging from solar panels to semiconductors, and wind turbines to advanced batteries for storage and transportation. The chips used in smartphones and electrical vehicles are made with these minerals in which a handful of countries such as China have a monopoly.

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2023, which has come into force from August 17, 2023, had recently listed 24 critical and strategic minerals in Part D of the First Schedule of the MMDR Act. The amendment provided that mining lease and composite licence of these 24 minerals will be auctioned by the Central government.

Thursday’s approval of the Union Cabinet for specification of rate of royalty will enable the Central government to auction blocks for these 12 minerals for the first time in the country. Royalty rate on minerals is an important financial consideration for the bidders in auction of blocks. Further, the manner for calculation of average sale price (ASP) of these minerals has also been prepared by the Ministry of Mines which will enable determination of bid parameters.

The Second Schedule of the MMDR Act provides royalty rates for various minerals. Its item no 55 provides that royalty rate for the minerals whose royalty rate is not specifically provided therein shall be 12 per cent of the average sale price (ASP). Thus, if the royalty rate for these is not specifically provided, then their default royalty rate would be 12 per cent of ASP, which is considerably high as compared to other critical and strategic minerals. Also, this royalty rate of 12 per cent is not comparable with other mineral producing countries.

The approved rates are: Beryllium, indium, rhenium, tellurium: 2 per cent of the ASP of relevant metal chargeable on the relevant metal contained in the ore produced.

Cadmium, cobalt, gallium, selenium, tantalum (produced from ores other than columbite-tantalite), titanium (produced from ores other than occurring in beach sand minerals): (i) Primary: 4 per cent of the ASP of relevant metal chargeable on the relevant metal contained in the ore produced (ii) By-product: 2 per cent of the ASP of relevant metal chargeable on the relevant by-product metal contained in the ore produced.

Tungsten: 3 per cent of the ASP of tungsten trioxide (WO3) on contained WO3 per tonne of ore on pro rata basis.

Vanadium, (i) Primary: 4 per cent of the ASP of vanadium pentoxide (V2O5) on contained V2O5 per tonne of ore on pro rata basis (ii) By-product: 2 per cent of the ASP of V2O5 on contained V2O5 per tonne of ore on pro rata basis.

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