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By the Way

Fasal Bima in quandary


BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe got his doctorate on ‘Political Parties as Victims of Populism and Electoral Compulsions’. Now, Dr Vinay has been given the job to analyse Narendra Modi’s popular ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’ (PMFBY) scheme as he heads the BJP’s Policy Research and Good Governance wing. Sources disclosed that there are contradicting findings by Dr. Vinay’s team, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Niti Aayog. The Centre currently has a bill of Rs 3,100 crore on account of its share of the premium for the 23 per cent crop that is currently insured in the country. This financial liability is expected to touch a whopping Rs 8,800 crore once the target of bringing 50 per cent crop under insurance is achieved in three years. After a long and detailed survey, experts have concluded that post-harvest losses do not include storage losses. Further, it only insures against weather risk and not crop loss risk. Risks such as destruction by wild animals are not covered under the scheme. In many states where premium rates are low, there is still very low subscription. One key problem of crop loss or damage compensation, the unit of assessment, remains unaddressed in the new scheme. There does not seem to be anything in this scheme to address the problem of tenant farmers who bear the risk of crop failure but are not entitled for compensation and insurance payments. As 83 per cent of farmers are small and marginal, the use of technology is difficult for them. Insiders reveal that this scheme will mostly benefit third party operators’ (TPOs) i.e. insurance companies who have been assigned to assess the crop loss. Senior civil servants are of the view that TPOs will destroy the revenue machinery which is an effective mechanism for assessment at the village level, which starts from the Patwari right up to the Collector. Who is behind the promotion of these insurance companies, Niti Aayog or Ministry of Agriculture?

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