Agri commissioner asks insurance firms to pay up

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Maharashtra Agriculture Commissioner Dheeraj Kumar has issued notices to insurance companies over their failure to pay the compensation amount to lakh farmers who registered crop loss claims. So far this year, the state’s farmers have registered claims of Rs 800 crore in crop losses due to heavy rains in September and October, while claims of nearly Rs 1,000 crore from last year are still pending.

One of the conditions for payment of compensation under the Pradhan Mantri Vasal Bima Yojana Act (PMFBY) is the release of the premium amount by both the central and state governments. This year, both central and state governments have already issued their quotas, but insurers have not paid farmers compensation for crop losses they reported due to heavy rains earlier in the season. Nearly 26 lakh farmers in Maharashtra have filed claims regarding crop loss during the Khareef season.

Meanwhile, several technical issues have been cited as reasons for farmers’ failure to get the insurance sum for the crop loss they incurred last year. According to USDA officials, insurers said the correct filing of claims was delayed last year, with many farmers not submitting the same claims either online or offline. Another reason companies fail to pay compensation is the lack of proper crop loss surveys.

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The Disaster Response Force, whose standards differ from those of insurers, conducted crop loss surveys last year. Farmers Organization A has already moved the Bombay High Court to challenge this decision and demand payment of the dues.

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The state agriculture commissioner is now pressing companies to release payments for this year’s crop loss as both the central and state governments release their premium payments. However, companies have not yet finished their surveys, delaying the payment schedule. The state Department of Agriculture has asked companies to speed up the payment process to help farmers
in distress.

Last year, the state saw Rs 4,903.76 crore being collected as premium amount, of which Rs 54.19 crore has been paid so far as compensation. Meanwhile, the PMFBY has come under fire from farmers’ groups, who say the scheme helps insurers more than it helps farmers.

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