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Alleging wide-scale corruption in the existing Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the Gujarat Congress has demanded the government to release statewide crop insurance figures.
Leader of Opposition, Paresh Dhanani said the mass scale corruption has been going on ever since the launch of the scheme in 2016, looting farmers wherein they pay 2 per cent to 5 per cent insurance and the state government in contribution pays 50 per cent premium to crop insurance companies, reported The Indian Express.
So far, there is no record of farmers being paid insurance by the companies that were announced, indicating a collision between the state government along with the Centre and the private companies. Dhanani also said the opposition has earlier reported ₹15,000-20,000 crore annually under this scheme.
"We demand that the state government release the figures of Total Yield and Actual Yield of each crop cutting in each season for the past four years and the documentation and figures of past four-year insurance paid. We also demand that a committee be set up by the Gujarat High Court for an unbiased probe."
Earlier in May, Assam Congress Chief Ripun Bora also claimed large-scale corruption, alleging serious irregularity to be found in the selection of beneficiaries under the scheme. He also urged PM Modi to initiate a CBI probe in the case.
Bora in his statement said the number of beneficiaries excluded the genuine farmers and instead included government employees, businessmen etc. Under the scheme, 31 lakh farmers in Assam were to be benefited with a cash grant of ₹6,000, in three phases of ₹2,000 each through a bank transaction.
In January, the opposition had alleged that the government is fudging figures and diverting funds to benefit private insurance companies. In his interview with National Herald, Gujarat MLA Amit Chavada had claimed that 90.06 per cent insurance amount was not paid to the farmers eligible under the scheme during the Kharif season.
Chavada said the scam came to light after the Congress party conducted a survey. "Congress volunteers accessed the figures of insurance amount paid and crop harvest in two villages in Junagadh in 2018. In Amargadh village, villagers were eligible for ₹62,252 per hectare but were paid only ₹1,007.90. So, by our calculation of only one village, the state government has not paid 90.06 per cent insurance amount to farmers and it is an indicator of a much bigger scam which needs to be probed," Chavada was quoted.
The party alleged the leading government of diverting more than ₹40,000 crores allotted under the PMFBY to benefit private insurance companies.
This year, PMFBY saw a major drop in the number of farmers covered and the amount insured, especially in the current Kharif cropping season. Only 1.12 crore farmers had enrolled under the scheme during this Kharif as per the latest updates till Monday, compared to 1.87 crore in 2019, the media reported.
Many states have also exited the government's crop insurance scheme including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
One of the major reasons behind states pulling out is said to be the cost they incur on premium subsidy. As mentioned, farmers pay 2 per cent premium rates of the sum insured on Kharif crops, while 1.5 per cent in Rabi and 5 per cent for annual horticultural crops. The gap between these premiums and payment to insurance companies is to be met by government subsidy on the Centre-State sharing formula of 50/50, of which the beneficiaries have been the private companies.
In contrast, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday announced 'Mukhya Mantri Kisan Sahay Yojana' promising assistance to farmers of up to a maximum of ₹25,000 per hectare in case of crop loss.
Condemning the Chief Minister's new scheme Kisan Sahay Yojana, former president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee, Arjun Modhwadia said the BJP-led government has given a 'new lollipop to the farmers'.
"Under the new scheme, farmers will get assistance for 33 per cent to 60 per cent crop loss and the survey will be carried out by government officials. This scheme is just a new lollipop for the farmers and we demand that an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General be carried out on the premium collected by insurance companies in Gujarat," said Modhwadia.
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