A good number of potato farmers in East Burdwan have suffered absolute crop loss and on top of that they have now been denied compensation.
The authorities said their losses couldn’t be estimated by the satellite sensing system this year.
The senior officials with the nationalised Agriculture Insurance Company of India (AICIL) have been asked by the East Burdwan zilla parishad and the agriculture department to table a fresh crop loss survey report by a week tallying with that prepared by the ground survey inspectors of the Agriculture department. The AICIL, however, chose to stick to its ‘scientific report’, the officials said.
The ground survey by the department inspectors in the post catastrophe situation incidentally differed grossly from the satellite survey reports tabled by AICIL and the mismatch further led to ambiguity in matters relating to compensation against the respective crop losses.
East Burdwan, the second largest potato grower in Bengal after Hooghly had cultivated potato on 66,945 hectares this year that resulted in a gross yield of 15.68 lakh metric tonne, a shortfall of 9 lakh MT compared to last year’s production. In 2021, the district produced 26.94 lakh MT potato, incidentally. “This year, the production was badly hit by repeated natural calamities and catastrophes. In some high yielding blocks, cultivation was devastated causing even 100 per cent crop loss,” said Mohammed Ismail, agricultural karmadhyaksha of the East Burdwan zilla parishad.
The karmadhyaksha said, “After recurring crop damage by the nature in the consecutive years, the farmers had bought crop insurance amass but the crop loss map prepared by the insurance companies with the help of satellite imaging and navigation systems that has come to our hands is certainly going to frustrate the farmers.” He added, “Most shockingly, the satellite database shows 100 per cent crop loss in blocks like Manteswar where cultivation is negligible and 7 to 10 per cent loss in high-yielding blocks like Memari – 1, 2 and Jamalpur.”
In the district 45,672 potato farmers had bought crop insurance coverages for their potato cultivation. The list prepared by the insurance companies against crop loss with the help of satellite systems however accommodated 26,522 farmers and according to Debu Tudu, deputy sabhadhipati, ZP, “Only these listed farmers would be getting compensation. This is absolutely misleading and the persons who didn’t suffer significant loss are enlisted for coverage but the actual sufferers are denied compensation, surprisingly.” He further said that the ground report by the agriculture department and the satellite reports are different. We’ve summoned the insurance companies on 25 May to sit across the table with the officials and then prepare a fair list of beneficiaries before any disbursement, he said.
The insurance companies estimated Rs 23.24 crore compensation for the potato growers this year taking the satellite survey into account. Sontu Das, regional manager, AICIL in Kolkata, said, “The satellite surveys are carried out following a specific methodology under the supervision of the scientists and the report we tabled was based on reality.”
Besides the potato farmers, Boro paddy cultivators too had to bear the brunt of catastrophe this year.