While the state government is trying to hog credit for payment of crop insurance claims of over Rs 2100 crore to the farmers for losses in Kharif season 2013, there are chances that the farmers who suffered losses to the tune of Rs 13,000 crores in the Rabi season due to untimely rain and hailstorm might not receive any insurance claim for these losses.
This is because of the failure of the state government to notify hailstorm as a 'localised calamity' for the Rabi (winter crop) season of 2013. This has come to light after the Bhopal-based regional office of the Agriculture Insurance Company of India (AICI) filed a reply in the Gwalior bench of the MP high court earlier this month refusing to pay the crop insurance claims. The reply was filed in response to public interest litigation (PIL) to seek insurance claim for farmers.
In an affidavit filed in the court, the AICI regional manager has clearly said that according to National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS) provisions, hailstorm is considered localised calamity and has to be specifically notified by the state government while notifying the scheme.
The reply further says that 'in its notification dated November 6, 2013 issued for Rabi 2013, the state government has not notified any peril as localised calamity and hence no claim is payable under this head' (copy of affidavit is available with HT).
A lawyer Sanjana Singh Raghuvanshi filed the PIL with the Gwalior bench of MP High Court in March this year, seeking crop insurance claims for the affected farmers under NAIS on the ground that insurance premium (@ 1.5% of sum insured) was deducted from Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loan accounts of the farmers for the Rabi season too.
Pawan Singh Raghuvanshi, advocate for the petitioner, told HT that the state government counsel again sought time for filing reply during the last hearing on September 5 after the AICI affidavit and was given last opportunity of four weeks. "The reply is still awaited," he said.
In a press conference on March 11, the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had said that total of 30,000 villages were affected because of rains and hailstorm causing damage to Rabi crops worth Rs 13,000 crores.
What the government says
Principal secretary of the department of farmers’ welfare and agriculture, Rajesh Rajora, said that the notification of localised calamity for individual crop loss claims was an optional clause under NAIS, which was done away with by the state government since 2006 due to impracticality of surveying the individual damages.
He, however, assured that hailstorm damage was included in NAIS for insurance claim and according to rule all farmers in a patwari halka (revenue unit) would be eligible for insurance claims (if they are insured under NAIS) in case the overall crop yield in that halka comes below the normal yield due to damage. "We would file suitable reply in the high court when we get the notice," he said.