After all, what are the reasons why farmers have to protest every time to get compensation?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
Posted By -




While participating in a protest march to press for compensation for crop loss in the recent floods in the state, a Punjab farmer, Preetam Singh, died in chaos during a clash between the agitating farmers and the police on August 21. On the call of farmer unions of Punjab, Haryana and other neighbouring states the farmers were marching ahead towards Chandigarh to congregate on August 22, 2023, to highlight and pressurising for their demands including seeking compensation for the damage to their crops incurred during the recent floods.

Haryana farmers are also organising rallies and sit-ins and the recent was the state-level rally on August 23, held in Bhiwani under the banner of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), wherein they had programmed to Gherao the residence of Haryana Agriculture& Farmers’ Welfare Minister, J P Dalal, but Mr Dalal did not come forward for the meeting despite a pre-notice by the farmer union as alleged by AIKS leaders.

Addressing the farmers’ congregation, the National Vice President of All India Kisan Sabha and national leader of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, Com. Inderjit Singh said that thousands of crores of rupees of insurance claims and compensation of the farmers of the state for the damaged crops are due, half of Haryana's districts have been affected in the flood, the crops were damaged, thousands of milch animals died and now also due to severe drought in many parts of the state, the Kharif crops have been destroyed, and farmers are protesting and demanding for relief and compensation, but the state government and the central government have become deaf and dumb and no one is listening to the cry of the distressed farmers. Even the state unit of AIKS had submitted a memorandum to the Agriculture & Welfare Minister of the state a month back, demanding time for the delegation to talk, but the minister is deliberately not giving time and today, even after coming to know, he is not at the residence to meet the farmers.

Haryana Deputy Chief Minister, Dushyant Chautala also accepting the loss to crops and lives in Haryana Vidhan Sabha on August 25,2023, said, “The total crop loss area uploaded at E-Kshatipurti portal, by 1,35,541 farmers, in 4,475 villages of the State as on August 22, 2023 is 6,61,644 acres. 47 human lives have been lost. 333 claims against the animal loss have been reported in the portal and a total number of 5,380 houses are claimed to have been damaged due to flood besides the damage of 109 commercial units in the State.”

Dushyant Chautala assured that whatever damage has been caused to the life, property, farm or business of any citizen due to the recent flood disaster, will be completely compensated as per the guidelines of NDRF.

AIKS claims that on the 81st anniversary of the “Quit India Day” called against British Imperialism, on 9th August 2023, farmers, agricultural workers and workers of India had collective actions across the country with the slogan “Corporate Looters, Quit India, Quit Agriculture” in protest against the pro-corporate policies of the Narendra Modi-led BJP-RSS Union Government.

In Rajasthan, the situation is the same and the farmers are continuously agitating to get the insurance claim under Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). On 9 August 2023, the 81st anniversary of Quit India Day, the AIKS Churu District Committee in Rajasthan organised a massive rally of thousands of farmers. Among the main speakers, who addressed the rally were AIKS President Dr Ashok Dhawale, Vice President Amra Ram and State President Pema Ram.

This rally was the next stage in the one-year-long AIKS struggle for just compensation for heavy crop damages in the Kharif 2021 season under the crop insurance scheme.

Farmers Leaders alleged that instead of 700 crore rupees that were due to farmers by using crop cutting data, the SBI General Insurance Company had given them only 213 crore rupees by using satellite data. The central and state governments of the BJP and the Congress respectively were in league with the insurance company.

Other demands of the rally were an MSP guarantee, a complete loan waiver to the peasantry, six hours of regular electricity to tube wells, and urgent demands concerning irrigation.

What is PMFBY?

To provide financial support to farmers suffering crop loss/damage arising out of unforeseen events, a new scheme namely, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was approved for implementation in all States and Union Territories from the Kharif 2016 season in place of National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS). PMFBY was claimed to show a marked improvement over the earlier schemes on several counts and comprehensive risk coverage from pre-sowing to post-harvest losses was provided under it. A budget provision of Rs.5501.15 crore was made for the scheme during 2016-17.

The PMFBY was made compulsory for loanee farmers to avail of crop loans for notified crops in notified areas and voluntary for non-loanee farmers.

Stating PMFBY a successful and beneficial scheme for the farmers, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on 21 July 2023 submitted details about Premium Collection and Insurance Claims under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and showed that a claim amount of Rs. 140037.88 crores has been paid to the farmers from 2016-17 to 2022- 23 by the insurance companies.

Year Premium collected Claim Paid Profit

2016-17 21949.87 16826.75 5123.12

2017-18 24468.36 22087.97 2380.39

2018-19 29687.75 29336.91 350.84

2019-20 32362.06 27372.97 4989.09

2020-21 31689.95 20771.05 10918.90

2021-22 29598.43 17881.43 11717.00

2022-23 27900.78 5760.80 22139.98

TOTAL 197657.20 140037.88 57619.32


PMFBY: Is it a defective scheme or a failure in implementation?

Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Narendra Singh Tomar in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on 21 July 2023 claimed that all the major work relating to the assessment of crop yield/crop loss for calculation of admissible claims is being performed by the concerned State Government or Joint Committee of State Government officials and the concerned insurance company. However, during the implementation of the PMFBY, some complaints against insurance companies about non-payment and delayed payment of claims; underpayment of claims on account of incorrect/delayed submission of insurance proposals by banks; discrepancy in yield data & consequent disputes between the State Government and insurance companies, delay in providing State Government share of funds, non-deployment of sufficient personnel by insurance companies etc., have been received in the past in the country. Most of the complaints have been suitably addressed.

If most of the complaints have been suitably addressed, as claimed by the Union Agriculture Minister, then why a claim amount of nearly Rs.1178 crore relating to the period of 2018 to 2022 is still pending in Haryana and why 2.43 lakh farmers are eagerly waiting for the PMFBY claim to be settled yet? The Union Minister should look into the matter personally, whether it is due to the defective PMFBY scheme or failure of the implementing system?

A Hindi daily, Dainik Bhaskar, in its Hisar (Haryana) edition dated 20 August 2023 reports that in Haryana a claim of Rs. 1178 crore relating to the year 2018 to 2022 of 2.43 lakh farmers residing in 17 districts of the state is pending under PMFBY. Topping the list 1.25 lakh farmers are waiting for their claim amounting to more than Rs.600 crore in Sirsa district, in Hisar 75 thousand farmers are still deprived of Rs. 309 Crore and in Bhiwani district, the farmers are in the third position and waiting for a claim amount of Rs. 200 crores.

The problems being faced by the farmers at the ground level show that the PMFBY has both – A defective scheme as well a failure of the implementing system.

The premium collection from farmers for Kharif crops generally runs up to 31 July by the banks and after the process completion the banks send the premium money to the concerned Insurance agencies, the agencies also take some time to generate the insurance policies, till then harvesting of the kharif crops gets started. A banker from Haryana says that the banks have collected the insurance money from the farmers and the amount is being kept in the Sundry Account because the data-feeding process is so complicated that it will take one month more to upload the required data on the portal.

It is very strange to mention that in Haryana even though the insurance agency has not been finalised in cluster-3, the banks have collected the premium from the farmers and kept the premium amount with them. It is not certain yet who will insure the crop loss?

Additional Director Statistics), Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Department, Haryana in its letter No. 9995 dated 25/8/2023 sent to The Convener, State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC), Chandigarh, informed that Re-tender is under process by the state government to select the Implementing Insurance Company only in cluster-3 for Kharif 2023 to Rabi 2023-24 under PMFBY. Therefore, Banks are requested to stop enrolment for cluster-3 till the Implementing Insurance Company is finalised.

How do the insurance companies assess the loss in the harvested crops and how can they apply the ‘Crop -Cutting” method after the crops have been harvested? To hide their failure to work on time, the insurance companies take the help of satellite data and pictures, which creates resentment among the farmers as the satellite cannot show the actual loss/ damage. How can a satellite capture the insects/ crop diseases that hit crops? For example, the insurance company used satellite data instead of the cutting method in the Churu district of Rajasthan. Rajasthan farmer's leaders allege that instead of 700 crore rupees that were due to farmers by using crop cutting data, the SBI General Insurance Company had given them only 213 crore rupees by using satellite data.

Now through its letter dated 18/8/2023, Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sabha, District committee, Churu, Rajasthan has requested the District Collector, Churu to order to start ‘Crop Cutting’ immediately so that exact loss to the crops can be assessed, as due to severe heat and shortage of rain in the region the Kharif crops are ready to be harvested and some farmers have even started the harvesting.

The central government has accepted some discrepancies in PMFBY and laxity by the system in implementation. (PIB release dated 14 March, 2023)

“Though timelines for each activity including settlement of claims are provided in the Operational Guidelines of PMFBY, settlement of few claims in some States got slightly delayed due to reasons like delayed transmission of yield data and late release of the State share in premium subsidy by the States, yield related disputes between insurance companies and States, non-receipt of account details of some farmers for transfer of claims to the bank account of eligible farmers and National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) related issues, erroneous/incomplete entry of individual farmers data on National Crop Insurance Portal (NCIP), delay in remittance of farmers share of premium/non-remittance of farmers share of the premium to concerned insurance company etc.”

Feeling the shortcomings in PMFBY, some States/UTs like Bihar, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh Jharkhand, West Bengal and Gujarat have opted out of the scheme after implementing it for some seasons due to their own reasons like perception of risk and financial constraints. Due to the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Andhra Pradesh has re-joined the scheme from the Kharif 2022 season and Punjab has made a budget announcement to do so.

Farmer Unions are also demanding a new policy in place of PMFBY.

A Haryana-based RTI activist and farmer leader Dr. Balbir Singh alleges that there is a nexus between governments and the insurance companies for allowing the insurance companies to loot the farmers’ as well as public money. He says, “The savings of over Rs 57000 crore under PMFBY since 2016, mostly to private insurance companies clears the ulterior motive. This explains the reasons for the nexus between governments and insurance companies. Governments of India and the states deliberately try to cover up the loot of companies by disseminating the figures of insurance claim payment in proportion to the premium taken from the farmers through huge advertisements, hiding the premium paid from the government exchequer. But the reality of these efforts comes to the fore when the state governments fail to bear the PMFBY premium subsidy and by not accepting the average production figures (CCEs) by the companies, on the pretext of satellite technology. Due to the denial of insurance claims, under PMFBY by the insurance companies on one or the other pretext, state governments of Punjab, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Gujarat etc. have shied away. The Maharashtra government is scrambling to get out. Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu governments have adopted the Beed formula (80:110).”

Dr Singh demands that to stop the loot of government and farmers' money by private insurance companies, the insurance premium for all the crops of all the farmers should be paid by the government and get it done by the government insurance company.

All India Joint Convention of Workers and Farmers was held on August 24,2023 at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi. The convention was called by Samyukta Kisan Morcha and the Joint Platform of Central Trade Unions, representing farmers and workers from across the nation. The Convention highlighted the agricultural crisis in India due to the pro-corporate and anti-farmer policies of the Union Government, which has resulted in falling incomes rising indebtedness and suicides among the farmers.

The Convention culminated in the formulation of a Charter of Demands, encompassing issues such as the implementation of written assurances made by the Union Government including the legal guarantee of MSP; withdrawal of PMFBY and establishment of a comprehensive Public Sector Crop Insurance Scheme for all crops along with other issues.

Will the Central Government re-assess the PMFBY or leave the harassed, distressed and loan-burdened farmers to suicide under the present system?

(The author is an independent journalist and columnist. These are his personal views.)

Post a Comment


Post a Comment (0)