Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday termed the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yoajana (PMFBY), a crop insurance scheme, as a “big scam” and demanded that it be scrapped. He alleged that the scheme was meant to benefit insurance companies instead of the farmers. “The (Pradhan Mantri) Fasal Bima Yojana is a big scam. It is betraying the farmers. Without the farmers’ consent, the premium gets deducted from their accounts,” Kejriwal told reporters in Israna village of Haryana’s Panipat district.
“Then when it comes to paying compensation to the farmers for crop damage, conditions of this scheme are such that a farmer keeps paying his premiums, but does not get the claim for his crop loss,” he said. “Till the time the crop loss in a village does not cross 70 per cent, an affected farmer will not get compensation, such are the conditions of this scheme,” he added.
The Delhi chief minister said this scheme should be called the ‘BJP Kisan Daka Yojana’ (BJP Farmer Loot Scheme). During his visit to Israna, Kejriwal met the family of a farmer, Surjit, who recently died of a heart attack. He said Surjit suffered a heart attack as he was unable to bear the losses he incurred after his crops were damaged due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm. He assured the deceased farmer’s family of all help and said he would donate a month’s salary, which is around Rs 80,000, and ask his MLAs to do the same.
“This Fasal Bima Yojana should be scrapped and the premium collected from the farmers returned,” he said. Kejriwal said a ‘Kisan Muavaza’ (farmer compensation) scheme, like the one introduced by the Delhi government, should be launched if the farmers are to be given relief. “In Delhi, we give Rs 20,000 per acre for crop damage within three months and a similar scheme should be introduced. Even if one farmer in a village suffers losses, he should be compensated,” he said. He said the compensation should be given directly to the farmers so that they do not have to run after insurance companies.
“Owners of insurance companies are good friends of Modiji and this scheme has been formulated to extend benefit to them,” Kejriwal claimed. According to recent media reports which quoted RTI information, the insurance companies have collected premium between Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore under this scheme, whereas the value of claims settled is very low, he alleged. Kejriwal accused the Manohar Lal Khattar-led Haryana government for going back on its promise of waiving farmers’ loans.
“When the BJP came to power, it promised to waive loans of the farmers. But it has not done so,” he said. He said if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) comes to power in Haryana in 2019, it will improve the condition of the state’s government schools and hospitals, which are in a bad shape. Later, he travelled to Jind district, where he expressed solidarity with those protesting against increased enhancement costs levied by Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP), formerly Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).
The resident welfare associations under the HSVP are up in arms against the state government ever since notices were served to plot holders in 20 districts, asking them to pay enhancement costs on account of additional compensation awarded to farmers by the Supreme Court. “Not just farmers, labourers, traders, this government seems to have spared no one,” Kejriwal told a gathering in Jind.
“This is not enhancement, but in a way it is extortion,” he alleged. He claimed that the enhancement notices were being served to people after every one or two years. The Delhi chief minister demanded that Khattar give an account of these notices being served repeatedly to people. He threatened to hold a protest and burn the notices next month if his Haryana counterpart does not respond.