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Government ready to make changes to PMFBY to satisfy farmers, says Ashish Bhutani

The government is concerned about 'lack of satisfaction among farmers' despite spending of Rs 15,000 crore annually on the scheme by the central government and an equal amount by the state governments.

ET Bureau|
Jul 10, 2019, 08.54 PM IST
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Farmers alleged that the private insurance companies participate in the scheme only during good monsoon year.
PUNE: Government is soon going to make changes to make insurance companies more accountable in settling of crop insurance claims, said Ashish Bhutani, CEO, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the flagship scheme started in Modi governments's first term. The government is concerned about 'lack of satisfaction among farmers' despite spending of Rs 15,000 crore annually on the scheme by the central government and an equal amount by the state governments.

Following large scale allegations of corruption in PMFBY by farmers, opposition parties and even the ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the state government took review of the scheme at a workshop organised in Pune on Wednesday.

"Government's spending on this scheme increased from Rs 3000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore within three years after the launch of the scheme. If a large number of states want the scheme to be made voluntary for loaneefarmers, we are ready to take such a decision as soon as possible," said Bhutani while speaking at the workshop.

Farmers alleged that the private insurance companies participate in the scheme only during good monsoon year. Of the 18 companies approved to offer PMFBY in Maharashtra, only one private insurance company has participated in the scheme in the current kharif season, when the monsoon is not likely to fare well.

"We will take a call on the demand of the states to make it mandatory for an insurance company to serve designated area for at least 3 years, " said Bhutani.

Speaking about the main issues being faced by farmers, Anil Bonde, Minister of Agriculture, Maharashtra said, "The state government has declared drought in 151 talukas of the state based on the drought manual of the central government and also distributed drought relief to the affected farmers. It an irony when insurance companies refuse to give compensation to farmers from these 151 talukas claiming that these areas had good production of crops."

"The government officials ask farmers to contact the insurance companies regarding their claims, but the company representatives are never reachable," he said adding, "The indemnity level of PMFBY should be raised from 70% to 90%."

Bhutani said that the state has all the right to ensure that a representative of the insurance company is present at the taluka level. "The companies have to open office at taluka level. On a local level natural calamity, we will not look at delay of one or two days in reporting by the farmer," he said.
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