September 05, 2021

MAHA: AIKS Rally Demands Crop Insurance Compensation

Ajay Burande

On August 30, thousands of peasants from the backward Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra, held an impressive rally at the State Agricultural Commissioner's office at Pune. 

They were demanding crop insurance compensation worth crores of rupees to lakhs of peasants who had paid their premium under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) for the Kharif season 2020, had suffered tremendous crop losses due to excessive rains, but had not received any compensation at all from crop insurance companies. The rally fully exposed the bankruptcy of the PMFBY of the Modi government.

The rally unanimously adopted an angry resolution condemning the BJP-JJP Haryana government, SDM Ayush Sinha and the police for their barbaric attack on farmers in Karnal, which led to the death of martyr Sushil Kajal. It also fully supported the nationwide farmers' struggle and backed the SKM call for Bharat Bandh on September 25. 

The farmers came in large numbers from Beed district, where the AIKS has been leading a consistent struggle on this issue for the last two years. They also came from Parbhani, Jalna, Aurangabad and Latur districts of Marathwada, and Amravati and Buldana districts of Vidarbha. There was also representation from Ahmednagar, Sangli, Satara and Pune districts of Western Maharashtra, and Palghar district of Konkan. The AIKS and CITU in Pune had made good arrangements for the rally. 

An AIKS delegation met Shri Dheeraj Kumar, IAS, the Agricultural Commissioner of Maharashtra, who took a clear pro-farmer stand, outlined the steps he had already taken, pointed out the difficulties that they were facing with the central government, and immediately set up a meeting of an AIKS delegation with the State Agriculture Minister Shri Dada Bhuse, on September 1 at the Mantralaya in Mumbai. 

It came out in the discussion that private sector insurance companies paid out much less crop insurance compensation to farmers than public sector companies, thus literally looting farmers and the government to make their super profits. 

The demonstration was led and addressed by AIKS president Ashok Dhawale, state president Kisan Gujar, state general secretary Ajit Nawale, state treasurer Umesh Deshmukh, CPI(M) MLA Vinod Nikole, CITU leader Ajit Abhyankar, AIKS state leaders Ajay Burande, Murlidhar Nagargoje, Mohan Lamb, Datta Dake, Dipak Lipane, Govind Ardad, Bhagwan Bhojane, Sanjay More, Mahadev Garpawar, Jitendra Chopde, Digambar Kamble, Manik Awaghade, Amol Waghmare, Chandrakant Ghorkhana and others.

On September 1, an AIKS delegation comprising Ajit Nawale, Ajay Burande, Murlidhar Nagargoje and Jitendra Chopde met the State Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse in Mumbai. He accepted the AIKS demands and ruled as follows: The state government had already done a survey of the crop damage due to excessive rains in the Kharif season of 2020 under the guidelines of the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF), and had decided that the farmers were eligible for compensation. The state government would order the concerned insurance companies to pay this compensation in full to farmers, failing which it would not release its next installment of premium to the defaulting companies. Since the central government is creating problems in this process, the state government would forcefully raise this issue with the centre.

While these assurances given by the Minister were welcome, the AIKS Maharashtra leadership has decided to continue the struggle until the compensation is actually paid to all the peasants.