Government has to inform farmers about schemes like PM Fasal Bima Yojana, says court
Telangana High Court on Tuesday instructed the State government to initiate measures within three months to enumerate and assess the crop losses suffered by farmers due to rains in September and October of 2020.
Pronouncing verdict in a PIL petition, a bench of Acting Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice T. Vinod Kumar also directed the government to extend assistance to ryots, including tenant farmers, in the form of agricultural input subsidy within a month of enumeration of crop loss. The subsidy for this can secured from National or State Disaster Response Fund (NDRF/SDRF) under National Disaster Management Act-2005.
The government should also take steps to give additional and appropriate relief to small and marginal farmers who suffered massive economic loss due to absence of crop insurance coverage within four months. The petitioners wanted the government to provide relief to farmers who lost crops during heavy rains in 2020 and complained that inaction of the government in enlightening agriculturists about crop insurance scheme cost them dearly.
The bench observed that State government cannot deny input subsidy to farmers who lost crops due to rains citing its Rythu Bandhu scheme, which offers ₹10,000 per year per acre, as an alternative. The government’s scheme gives benefits only to landowner farmers even if they did not suffer any crop loss.
The bench also recalled that agriculture input subsidy to the tune of ₹22 crore was given to farmers in addition to Rythu Bandhu scheme in payment following the HC order in a PIL petition connected to crop losses. It was the duty of the State government to inform the farmers through extension facilities about Prime Minister’s Fasal Bima Yojana, the bench said.
Since the scheme was being made voluntary in year 2021, the farmers may opt for the scheme by paying their own money, the bench said in its order. A letter of the Accountant General of the State dated this May 21 said ₹2,581.16 crore were available with the SDRF by April 1, 2020. “When such substantial funds were available… it was not proper for Telangana government to contend that no assistance was given to it by the Centre for providing relief to the farmers,” the bench said.
The bench rejected the State government’s contention that it initially imagined huge loss due to rains in 2020 based on preliminary estimates and that ultimately it was found that no farmer suffered crop loss in excess of 33%. The bench pointed out that Telangana government sent final estimate of crop loss on October 19 to the Central government.
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