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Drought in Madhya Pradesh: compensation, debt trap, and agitation 

50% of Kharif crops damaged in MP due to drought. Every year farmers suffer losses and insurance companies do not give claims.

By Sanavver Shafi
New Update
Drought in Madhya Pradesh Farmers not getting insurance claims

The crops have been severely affected in many districts of Madhya Pradesh due to the dry spell in August. However, if effective irrigation and weather alert systems were in place, the extent of damage could have been considerably minimized. The burden of debt on farmers is a significant issue and even a political concern. Ajay Thakur, a farmer from Dobra Jagir village in the Bhopal district, expressed genuine concern about his situation.

"I had planted soybeans and paddy in my 22-acre field. What worries me the most, is not the extent of crop damage but, how I will repay the loan? I have begun receiving messages from the cooperative society"

During the conversation, his eyes welled up with tears. After a brief silence, he disclosed, "I have obtained a loan of 52 thousand in my name, as well as 2 lac 59 thousand in my mother's name, from the cooperative society."

soyabean crop destroyed in Madhya Pradesh August

"Now only compensation from the government or insurance money can provide support. Insurance companies are profit-driven. They collect Rs 8640 per season, yet they often fail to honour their commitment when it's time to pay the insured amount. In the event of crop failure, it is crucial to inform the insurance company within 72 hours. However, despite continuously dialling the toll-free number 18001024088 provided by the insurance company, the phone remains unreachable."

Agreeing with him, Munnalal a farmer from the same village says

"Insurance companies offer coverage based on the season. I opted to insure my Kharif crop and paid a lump sum premium of Rs 7260. However, I am facing difficulties while filing a claim as the company's toll-free number is inaccessible. Additionally, when I attempted to visit the bank, there was no hearing or assistance provided. I am unsure of the procedure to make a claim. Even if I manage to file a claim, I have experienced delays in receiving the rightful amount. The entire process seems time-consuming and frustrating."

Reliance General Insurance Company has been authorized by the government for the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in the Bhopal district. The Bhopal District Officer of this company, Akash Parashar accepts the complaint that the toll-free may have been inaccessible. He explains,

"It is indeed necessary for farmers to promptly inform both the district administration and the insurance company within 72 hours to initiate the loss assessment process. To facilitate this, toll-free numbers have been provided by both the company and the government. Unfortunately, during disasters, it often occurs that these toll-free numbers designated for insurance claims are busy and therefore inaccessible. "

However, Akash Parashar was quick to point out that the efficiency with these technical glitches is resolved. He says,

"It is crucial to clarify that this should not be misconstrued as a refusal to process insurance claims. It is pertinent to acknowledge that multiple technical issues can occasionally result in overwhelmed figures, yet it is imperative to highlight that these challenges are promptly identified and resolved."

On the other side, Sanjay Dalela, Joint Commissioner of the Madhya Pradesh Cooperative Department, says that

"Yes, it is indeed true that messages are being sent to farmers with regards to loan repayment. However, it is important to note that the sole intention behind sending these messages is to convey information and not to exert any kind of undue pressure on the farmers for prompt loan repayment."

crops destroyed in madhya pradesh

In the case of messages being sent to the farmers, it is important to gauge the difference between intention and impact. Farmers in India have been under pressure with multiple crop failures. The intentional loan repayment pressure forces farmers to take high-interest loans from informal money lenders. Hence, initiates the vicious cycle of the debt trap.

Call for agitation from farmers’ organisations

Shivkumar Sharma, president of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh and farm leader, says

“For the last two years, the farmers of Madhya Pradesh have been suffering a lot due to climate change, but neither the government is doing anything nor the advice given by the scientists is reaching the farmers on time. Farmers can get a lot of help if the advice reaches on time.” 

Farmers in Sanchi, Garatganj, and Begumganj tehsil claim that 60% of their damage to their paddy crop and 50% of their soybean crop has been damaged. Every year it happens here that farmers suffer losses and insurance companies do not give claims.

Devendra Singh Dangi, President, Berasia Tehsil of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, mentions the possibilities of agitation for fair compensation by farmers,

"We are currently awaiting the administration's response to determine the most suitable course of action. Once we have a clearer understanding of their intentions, we will proceed with our efforts. During our recent meeting, it was unanimously agreed to submit a memorandum to the government, urging for fair compensation for the farmers and the thorough completion of surveys."

On similar lines, Shivkumar Sharma says,

"We have submitted a memorandum to the government, urging them to promptly distribute the compensation to farmers by conducting the necessary surveys. Additionally, the government should waive off loans for farmers, who have suffered significant loses. In the event of any delays in compensation or failure to waive off loans, we will resort to organized protests in a phased approach."

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