J&K govt failed to monitor Agriculture crop insurance schemes: Agri Ministry

Syed Junaid Hashmi

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir government miserably failed to monitor centrally sponsored Agriculture crop insurance schemes besides being unable to constitute independent and well-equipped Technical Support Unit (TSU) to monitor implementation of crop insurance schemes.

Sources said that Agriculture crop insurance schemes envisage monitoring by central and state governments through National Level Monitoring Committee, Technical Support Unit, State Level Coordination Committee on Crop Insurance, District Level Monitoring Committee and periodical inspections by implementing agencies (IAs). They added that Jammu and Kashmir did not monitor the scheme and allowed operational issues to crop-up.

Scheme was to be implemented in accordance with the operational modalities as worked out by IA in consultation with Department of Agriculture. Operation of the scheme was to be reviewed annually. Department of Agriculture was required to prepare periodical appraisal reports on the scheme. Sources said that no such report was prepared by the Department of Agriculture even after 14 years of operation of the schemes.

Though department of Agriculture claimed that crop insurance schemes were being monitored regularly through various measures but failed to explain the same. There were no records of such monitoring No periodical appraisal reports were furnished to the central government. As per guidelines; an independent and well-equipped Technical Support Unit (TSU) was to be created under the guidance of the Department of Agriculture to monitor implementation of crop insurance schemes, product structuring, standardization and benchmarking of products, rationalization of premium rate/subsidy, issuing guidelines for installation and accreditation of weather stations, creation of national grid for statistical data issuance of directives to insurance companies.

No such TSU was established. Pradhan Mantri Fasal BimaYojana (PMFBY) scheme states that till Technical Support Unit is formed, Agriculture Insurance Company (AIC) will act as TSU. NCIP guidelines provided for setting up of a State Level Monitoring Committee (SLMC). However, no NLMC was ever constituted. Scheme guidelines provide for constitution of State Level Coordination Committees on Crop Insurance (SLCCCI) to monitor the schemes.

About five per cent of the beneficiaries were to be verified by the regional offices/local level offices of the insurance company and the feedback sent to the SLCCCI. Neither meetings of SLCCCI were held regularly or were delayed, which further delayed the issue of notifications for implementation of insurance in the state.

Scheme guidelines provide for formation of a District Level Monitoring Committee (DLMC) which will provide fortnightly reports of agriculture situation with the details of the area sown, seasonal weather condition, pest incidence, stage of crop failure, if any, to the concerned IAs for assessment of loss and processing of claim payable to farmers. No DLMC was formed.

There was poor monitoring by Implementing Agencies. NAIS guidelines stipulate that AIC has access to all relevant records/ledgers at the nodal points/ branches of Banks and FIs. Guidelines specify the percentage of checks to be exercised by the IAs and cross verification by DLMC for sending feedback to state governments. IAs are required to send feedback to Department of Agriculture.? However, the AIC had never requisitioned or received such records from nodal points/ branches.

Consequently, it is not clear how AIC (in the case of NAIS), and all IAs in the case of other schemes have ensured the correctness of data on which basis funds were being claimed state government, particularly when such data was not being maintained by GOI and the state governments, says the report with Union Ministry of Agriculture. State government incurred substantial financial liabilities on account of premium subsidy and claim reimbursement (in the case of NAIS) and premium subsidy (in the case of other schemes).

Scheme guidelines require IAs (including private insurance companies) to open a separate account for maintaining all transactions under the scheme in the account but the department of Agriculture had not taken up the matter of audit of such accounts with the CAG. Union Agriculture ministry has pleaded with Jammu and Kashmir government to take all steps to ensure that implementation of the schemes is monitored effectively at all levels.