Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar said on Saturday that the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY) was not intended to serve farmer’s interest but was aimed at filling the coffers of insurance companies.
Speaking at a felicitation function of newly elected panchayat representatives belonging to farming community of Kushwahas, Kumar said, “I believe that our earlier crop insurance scheme was far better in terms of focus and benefit for farmers. But I have asked the department to implement PMFBY to honour our cabinet resolution.”
He said the current scheme was intended to ensure profit for insurance companies by forcing state governments to pay money from their exchequer in advance and that too at a higher premium.
The state government will have to share a financial burden of Rs 650 crore, as premium, with the Centre contributing an equal amount to roll out the scheme for 1.5 crore farmers in the state.
“How can the premium be charged at 10% in Buxar and less than half of that in Balia - a contiguous district across Bihar border in Uttar Pradesh,” he asked, adding that he had raised the matter in the meeting of inter-state council recently.
Bihar has been asked to pay a premium of 15% by insurance companies after the finalisation of the bidding process.
Referring to higher risk factor as the reason for the hefty premium, as cited by Opposition BJP, the CM said that the state had even decided to provide diesel subsidy to reduce the risk factor in event of drought.
“Despite all this, we have decided to go ahead to have a real time assessment on how much benefit accrues to the farmers,” he said.
Incidentally, union minister for agriculture Radha Mohan Singh has agreed to state co-operative minister Alok Mehta’s request to extend the date for the implementation of the PMFBY to August 31.
He said that the decision to implement the scheme was also taken to tackle the misinformation campaign launched by Opposition that the state government was not in a position to implement the scheme.
“I had only talked of renaming the PMFBY as centre-state crop insurance scheme in a lighter vein, on account of equal contribution, but the matter was blown out of proportion,” he said, alleging that the media did not highlight state government’s point of view in the matter.