Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Congress allege that the central government's crop insurance scheme was a "Rs 16,000-crore scam". It alleged that private insurance firms cleared claims worth only Rs 6,000 crore, out of Rs 22,000 crore they had collected from farmers in premiums last year under the scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY).
The crop insurance scheme was launched by prime minister Narendra Modi in 2015 with the main objective to provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crops as a result of natural calamities, pests and diseases.
The Congress's allegation came a day before Modi's proposed visit to his poll-bound home state, where he would address a public meeting marking the culmination of 'Gujarat Gaurav Yatra' (march for Gujarat's honour). Addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad, senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia demanded an inquiry into the "scam".
"Under PMFBY, nine insurance firms collected premiums of Rs 22,000 crore from farmers in 2016. However, these firms only cleared claims amounting to just Rs 6,000 crore across the country. This shows that the scheme was floated for the benefit of insurance companies and not for the welfare of farmers, as the companies earned Rs 16,000 crore out of it in a scam," he alleged.
He accused the BJP government of giving a "free hand" to the companies in collecting premiums from farmers. "The government did nothing when these firms did not pay back to farmers for the crop losses. We want the government to set up a commission to probe the scam and punish the guilty,"
The Congress leader claimed that insurance firms had made 80 percent profit under the scheme, which he said was far more than the average profit of around 10 to 15 percent. "During the Congress rule, the disbursement of insurance claims was controlled by a nodal agency of the government.
But, the BJP government at the Centre handed over this control to private firms and washed off its hands. As a result, these insurance firms sucked the premiums," Modhwadia alleged.
The Congress leader said the BJP government in Gujarat had also helped the insurance firms. "Insurance disbursement commences only after the state government issues a notification regarding it. But, it did not issue such notification last year. Further, the state government conducted the crop loss survey through a private agency, which did its work on paper only," he alleged.
The ruling BJP and the opposition Congress are locked in a bitter battle to win Gujarat polls slated for later this year. While the BJP is highlighting the 'Gujarat model of development' as its USP, the Congress is building its poll campaign around "corruption" and "misgovernance" under the BJP rule.
Updated Date: Oct 16, 2017 11:06 AM