BHUBANESWAR: Even as a competition has started between the Centre and State Government to flaunt their concern for welfare of farmers ahead of the 2019 elections, thousands of farmers in one of the poorest pockets of Odisha have not been paid insurance claim for crop loss during 2017 kharif.
As many as 2,472 farmers of Tureikela, Bangomunda and Muribahal blocks of Kantabanji Assembly constituency in Balangir district were surprised when instead of insurance money, they were returned the premium paid by them online before July 30, 2018. The affected farmers brought the issue to the notice of former MLA and vice-president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Santosh Singh Saluja during his recent visit to the area.
Saluja told The Express that the affected farmers paid premium online from the Common Service Centre (CSC). However, instead of getting their claim amounting to `8.16 crore, they were returned the premium amount. The former MLA warned that suicide by farmers cannot be prevented in such a situation and demanded intervention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for corrective measures. Stating that the area has been facing drought for the last four years, he criticised both the Centre and the State Government for their inaction.
The farmers have their accounts in 20 banks in Kantabanji area. The former MLA said `308.8 crore was earmarked for Balangir district under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana out of which `291.63 crore has already been sanctioned. Saluja alleged that farmers’ interests were ignored by the Centre while handing over crop insurance to private parties. Crop insurance of Balangir has been handed over to Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company.