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‘Lagaan’: Crop insurance scheme draws farmers’ flak

The much-hyped Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is facing severe criticism from farmers, who are terming it as ‘lagaan’ as they have to pay mandatory crop insurance premium after every six months.

punjab Updated: Jul 28, 2016 12:54 IST
Neeraj Mohan
Neeraj Mohan
Hindustan Times
Crop insurance,Crop insurance scheme,farmers’ flak
Under the scheme, farmers have to pay mandatory premium after every six months. (HT File Photo)

The much-hyped Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is facing severe criticism from farmers, who are terming it as ‘lagaan’ as they have to pay mandatory crop insurance premium after every six months.

The insurance scheme has many flaws but it is specially being criticised for being compulsory for farmers who have taken crop loans from any nationalised or state government-run banks.

“Rs 313.61 per acre (for paddy) will be deducted after six months from the loan account of every farmer who has taken crop loan from us,” said a senior officer of the State Bank of India, on the condition of anonymity.

“It does not matter how many acres of the land the farmer has mortgaged with the bank. The insurance premium will be charged for the entire land he owns,” he added.

Also read: Chandumajra wants revision of crop insurance norms

According to bank officials, another problem with this scheme is that the scheme does not have any provision for the tenant farmers. Even the amount of the premium will be charged from the actual owner of the land and the benefit of the scheme will also be given to him, instead of the tenant farmer.

Also, the bank officials will have to get the girdawari record of every acre from tehsildar to monitor the crop sown by the farmers.

The farmers are terming it as ‘lagaan’, a heavy tax charged from farmers during the British rule, while arguing no one can charge premium forcibly from the farmers who had never faced a crop loss due to natural calamity.

“I never saw crop loss in my life due to heavy rains or floods in our area. Why should I pay to private companies for the crop insurance after every six months. This is a trick to loot farmers in the name of crop insurance”, says Darshan Singh, a farmer of Ladwa.

Farmer leaders say they are ready to pay the premium for the insurance if the government fixes minimum support price (MSP) for all crops. If the farmers are forced to sell the produce below fixed price, the insurance company should compensate them, they insist.

“They should also cover all the crops which do not have MSP and should cover the cost of the crop as per the market price,” said Gurnam Singh Chaduni, state president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU).

‘Scheme benefits private companies’

He said the Centre’s insurance scheme seemed to have designed to benefit the private insurance companies.

Though the government claims that the farmers have to pay lowest ever premium of 2% for insurance of kharif crops and 1.5% for rabi crops, the farmers say the government has fixed the premium amount district-wise as per the crop loss record of the past seven years. Where the chances of crop loss are higher, the government is charging more for the insurance, they point out.

“Also they have divided the crops district-wise. For example, the government did not pay compensation for the crop loss in cotton in Sonepat district,” said Chaduni.

He demanded that the government immediately take steps to stop private insurance companies from looting the farmers.

The farmers expressed the apprehension that the government might use the insurance cover as a shield to avoid expenses on compensation for crop loss.

Official version

When contacted, Haryana agriculture department deputy director Pardeep Kumar Meel said, “Yes, the crop insurance has been made mandatory for the farmers who have taken loans from state or central banks.”

Asked why the farmers who never faced crop loss due to floods or waterlogging should pay for insurance, he said, “That’s why the premium in these areas is very low.”

First Published: Jul 28, 2016 12:52 IST