The deadlock on payment of insurance claims to farmers for the damage to rabi crops by hailstorm and untimely rains seems to be in the offing, with the state government telling the high court that it does not specifically require to declare hailstorm as a natural/localised calamity for insurance claims to mature.
The government made this assertion in reply to a high court notice issued in context of public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a Gwalior-based lawyer demanding adequate compensation and insurance claims to the farmers for the damaged rabi crops.
The state government's reply assumes importance on the background that the Agriculture Insurance Company of India, in its reply to the high court notice had clearly refused to pay the insurance claims on the ground that the state government had failed to notify hailstorm as 'localised calamity' for the rabi crop season of 2013-14.
The government reply says that according to the policy announced by the state government in November 2013 on basis of the guidelines issued by the Central government, the compensation or insurance claim is to be paid by undertaking general crop estimation survey on basis of threshold yield and actual yield. The insurance company is bound to make the general estimation survey and make payment to the farmers, the government affidavit says.
"For payment of the compensation against damage due to hailstorm, there is no need of declaration of natural calamity by the government," the reply says.
Pawan Singh Raghuvanshi, counsel for the petitioner, said that owing to such contradicting reply, a deadlock has been reached, but hope is pinned on the high court to resolve the matter.
The government reply was filed in the case only after four notices of the HC. During the last hearing on October 7, the HC had given a last chance to the government to file its reply by the next date of hearing (November 10), failing which the principal secretary of the state department of farmers' welfare and agriculture was asked to personally appear before the court on this date.
The PIL filed by Sanjana Singh Raghuvanshi in March this year sought crop insurance claims for the farmers for the rabi crop damage under the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS).
The PIL has been filed on the ground that the farmers should get the insurance money as premium (@ 1.5% of sum insured) was deducted from Kisan Credit Card (KCC) loan accounts of the farmers.
Due to multiple spells of hailstorm and unseasonal rainfall in January-February this year, rabi crops worth Rs 13,000 crore were damaged. The state government got a survey done and paid compensation through a Central package to the affected farmers.