464 Puducherry farmers await indemnity claims two years after cyclone Nivar

PUDUCHERRY : A total of 464 farmers — 406 from Karaikal and 58 from Puducherry — are still awaiting indemnity claims under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) for crop losses they suffered during the rains in 2021. Between November 18 and December 10, 2021, the downpour caused by Cyclone Nivar damaged the crops, resulting in poor yields. Bangaaru Vaikal Neeraadhara Kootamaippu president V Chandrasekhar petitioned Lieutenant Governor C P Radhakrishnan seeking his intervention in this issue.

An inter-ministerial team, led by Ministry of Home Affairs Joint Secretary Rajiv Sharma, assessed the damages on November 22 and 23, 2021. According to the scheme guidelines issued by the Chief Secretariat (Agriculture) on August 12, 2020, indemnity claims are to be settled based on yield data from crop cutting experiments. The insurance company is mandated to settle claims at 90% for all Kharif (Sornavari) and Rabi-II (Samba) crops, and 70% for Rabi-I crops within three weeks of receiving the yield data.

The contract with the National Insurance Company, which covered the financial years since 2020, ended on March 31, 2023, for all notified crops except banana, which ended on October 31, 2023. Despite this, the indemnity claims for the samba season of 2021 remain unsettled, over two and a half years after the harvest.

Chandrasekhar claimed that despite multiple representations, the director of Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, who is also the State Nodal Officer of the scheme, has failed to direct the insurance company to settle the claims. Efforts to resolve the issue included representations to the collector to convene a district-level grievance redressal committee, which has not been convened yet, he said.

Additional Director (Agronomy) and Scheme Implementing Officer Zakir Hussain told TNIE that the insurance intermediaries appointed by the company failed to enrol 464 farmers, out of the over 8,000 applications, in the national crop insurance portal. The inconsistencies in names across identification documents, bank IFSC codes among other issues were cited as the cause.

After the agriculture department approached, the ministry reopened the portal, however, the insurance company is yet to complete the process. Following intervention from the central ministry, claims worth `7.6 crore were settled for over 8,000 farmers from the union territory through Direct Benefit Transfer about 10 months ago. The matter is being taken up regularly with the Centre to ensure the remaining 464 farmers are enrolled, the discrepancies corrected and their claims settled, said Hussain.

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