Settlement of claims under crop insurance plan delayed by states: Radha Mohan Singh
States like Bihar and Kerala did not deposit their share of insurance premium on time, delaying payments to farmers, says agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh
New Delhi: Due to states delaying assessment of crop loss, settlement of claims under the centre’s flagship crop insurance scheme is getting delayed, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Wednesday.
The minister also complained that some states like Bihar and Kerala did not deposit their share of insurance premium on time, delaying payments to farmers.
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“The process of settling claims of kharif (2016) is going on. States need to use smartphones, drones and space technology to promptly assess crop loss and transmit the data,” the minister said during a live chat on a social media platform. He added that the centre has trained states on use of new technology but only five states have acted promptly.
The minister’s statement comes at a time when farmer groups have highlighted poor claim settlement under the centre’s flagship crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), launched last year.
The minister’s observations come a week after the advocate general (AG) told the Supreme Court that 40% of farmers have been covered under various government schemes, including crop insurance, and the government needs a year for the new schemes to show results.
However, the AG’s observations are not corroborated by government data. In fact, the government collects data on farm holdings that are insured and not how many farmers are covered under the scheme.
The data shows that enrolment under PMFBY went up significantly, from 23% of cropped area in 2015-16 to 30% of cropped area in 2016-17. The government has targeted bringing 50% of area under insurance within the next two years.
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“We cannot say what percentage of farmers are enrolled as one farmer may have more than one plot of land and the data is collected on holdings that are insured,” an official with the agriculture ministry told Mint earlier this week, requesting anonymity.
He added that for kharif 2016 (the summer crop) insurance companies collected around Rs16,000 crore in premiums and farmers made claims of about Rs10,000 crore.
The official did not share the quantum of claims that have been settled till date. It has been more than seven months since farmers harvested their kharif crops in November 2016. However, the government told the upper house of Parliament on 7 April that of the Rs4,270 crore of tentative claims, just Rs714 crore was disbursed, implying a poor claim settlement ratio of 17%. Faster payout of insurance claims, apart from lower premiums and increased coverage were the major upgrades of the revamped crop insurance scheme, government assured at PMFBY’s launch .
“The rise in enrolment under the scheme is impressive but the Centre should periodically release data for a better assessment,” said Siraj Hussain, former agriculture secretary and a visiting fellow at the Delhi-based Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.
Hussain added that the government should release data on claims filed and settled, and name states that have not paid their share of premiums to make it clear why payments to farmers are getting delayed.