While the Kisan Rail has come as a boon for farmers across the country, the railways have been left with a burden of about Rs 40 crore in the form of unpaid reimbursements from the Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) for running these trains for a year at a 50-per cent rebate. From October 14, 2020, to October 10, 2021, the Indian Railways has provided a subsidy of around Rs 95 crore to farmers for ferrying their goods on Kisan Rail trains.
Under the "Operation Greens - TOP to Total" scheme of the MoFPI, a 50-per cent subsidy in freight is granted on transportation of fruits and vegetables through Kisan Rail trains. The MoFPI, which is to bear the burden of the subsidy, is yet to compensate the Ministry of Railways.
Since the services began in October 2020, the railways have run 1,455 Kisan Rail trains on 129 routes, carrying 4.78 lakh tonne of consignment worth Rs 182.46 crore, and has offered a subsidy of Rs 94.92 crore, according to official figures.
However, the national transporter has so far received only around Rs 55 crore as reimbursement from the MoFPI, officials said. They said both the Railway Board Chairman and the Member, Operations and Business Development have written to the MoFPI, highlighting the need to increase the corpus for the Kisan Rail scheme to at least around Rs 150 crore to meet the increasing demand for the services.
"We will continue to run the services till we get a reply from the food ministry on its ability to pay for the subsidies. If it expresses its inability to do so, we will make a decision on the matter," an official told PTI.
According to official figures, in 2020-2021 (from October 2020 to March 2021), the railways ferried freight worth Rs 53.22 crore on Kisan Rail trains and were granted a subsidy of Rs 27.79 crore. In the current year (April to October 15, 2021), it has moved freight worth Rs 129.25 crore on Kisan Rail trains and has granted a total subsidy of Rs 67.13 crore to farmers.