Why this RSS wing is against the Centre’s crop insurance plan

Rutam V Vora | | Updated on: Apr 10, 2018
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Bharatiya Kisan Sangh feels the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana works against farmers’ welfare

The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), the farmer arm of the RSS, has upped the ante against the Centre over compulsory crop insurance scheme PMFBY, terming it unjust and arbitrary.

In its public interest litigation (PIL) filed with the Gujarat High Court last week, the BKS sought the quashing of Clause 2 of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, which makes crop insurance mandatory for farmers, besides seeking amendments to make the scheme more transparent and farmer-oriented.

A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy has asked the State government to furnish details on the status of PMFBY in three weeks.

“Due to this Clause (2), the insurance premium amount will be straight away deducted from the loan amount, without the knowledge of the farmers. They have no access to representatives of insurance companies either. The provisions in the scheme are against the farmers. Insurance can’t be compulsory,” said Vitthal Dudhatara, President of BKS Gujarat.

The BKS has also raised objections on several operational aspects of the scheme and provisions such as “notified crop” and “notified area”. The latter disqualifies non-notified crops from insurance cover. BKS also pointed out that no policy document or acknowledgement is provided by the insurance companies, which should be brought under CAG audit.

Vishal Chandrakar, a BKS member from Raipur, maintained that the scheme, rather than helping the farmers face crop failure, added to their troubles. “There is no uniform mechanism for claim settlement across the country. Farmers in some States have to resort to arm-twisting to make their claims. If the local farmer body is politically strong, they get their way, the others suffer.”

The BKS petition terms the mandatory insurance the “ultimate violation of the right of the individual person”.

It has also raised alarm over the allegedly arbitrary deduction of premium amounts from farmers’ accounts. It has also questioned the trustworthiness of the private players roped in for the scheme. “Farmers normally rely on the government — Central or State,” the petition said, recalling unsavoury past experiences with private players.

The Centre had introduced the PMFBY in 2016, and revised it the next year under the Restructured Weather-Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS).

Published on April 10, 2018

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