Government Schemes Current Affairs - 2019

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Ashish Kumar Bhutani appointed CEO of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Government has appointed senior bureaucrat Ashish Kumar Bhutani as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). He has been appointed to post till May 2020. He is IAS officer (1992 batch) of Assam-Meghalaya cadre.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

It is farmers’ welfare scheme launched in 2016 to ensure faster insurance services or reliefs to farmers. It was formulated in line with One Nation–One Scheme theme by replacing earlier two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) by incorporating their best features and removing their inherent drawbacks (shortcomings). It aims to reduce the premium burden on farmers and ensure early settlement of crop assurance claim for the full insured sum.

Objectives: Provide insurance coverage and financial support to farmers in event of natural calamities, pests & diseases. Stabilise income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming. Ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector. Encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.

Beneficiaries: All farmers growing notified crops in notified area during season who have insurable interest in crop are eligible under this scheme. It also provides insurance benefits to Landless labourers. It is compulsory for loanee farmers availing crop loans for notified crops in notified areas and voluntary for non-loanee farmers.

Key Features of Scheme

Under this scheme, farmers need to pay uniform premium of only 2% for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, farmers have to pay premium of only 5%. The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by Government. Moreover, there is no upper limit on Government subsidy, so farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.

It covers yield losses due to non-preventable risks, such as natural fire and lightning, storm, stailstorm, cyclone, typhoon, tempest, hurricane, tornado. It also covers risks due to flood, inundation and landslide, drought, dry spells, pests and diseases. It also covers post-harvest losses are also covered.

Udder this scheme, it mandatory for use of technology such as smart phones, drones etc to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be also used to reduce number of crop cutting experiments. The scheme is implemented on Area Approach basis. In this case, defined area (i.e. unit area of insurance) is village or above it can be geo-mapped and geo-fenced region having homogenous risk profile for notified crop.

Government notifies rules for unlocking Rs 66,000 crore compensatory afforestation funds

Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has notified rules for utilisation of more than Rs 66,000 crore afforestation funds by states/UTs and for setting up authorities to monitor its use for afforestation and conservation. The rules have been framed two years after Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 to this effect was enacted.

Key Facts

The fund is accumulated amount which user agencies have been depositing as compensation for diverting forest land for non-forest purposes such as setting up industries or creating infrastructure, over the past 10 years. Since rules for utilisation of fund have been notified, unspent amount will now be transferred to National Compensatory Afforestation Fund (NCAF) at Centre and respective State Compensatory Afforestation Funds in phased manner, depending on its utilisation. The national and state compensatory afforestation funds are both non-lapsable and have been established under Public Account of India and Public Account of each state. They can be utilised for only activities listed under the CAF Act.

Key Features of Rules

The rules specify that 80% of compensatory afforestation amount will be utilised by states for plantations, assisted natural regeneration of forests, pest and disease control in forest, forest fire prevention, soil and moisture conservation works and improvement of wildlife habitat, among other things from list of 13 permissible activities. The remaining 20% will be used for 11 listed works to strengthen infrastructure related forest and wildlife protection. The list includes third-party monitoring of works, development of certification standards, forest certification and casual hiring of local people to assist forest department staff. It also specifies that working plan will be taken up in consultation with the gram sabha or village forest management committee.

Background

Though Parliament had enacted Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Act, 2016 to utilise money, it could not be implemented in absence of enabling rules within Act for two years. As result, only Rs 14,418 crore out of Rs 80,716 crore were disbursed to states/UTs under temporary and time-consuming mechanism. The remaining Rs 66,298 crore therefore has been lying unspent with ad hoc Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) created by Supreme Court order in 2009. Among states, Odisha has highest share (Rs 9,725 crore) in accumulated fund, followed by Chhattisgarh (Rs. 7,288 crore), Madhya Pradesh (Rs 6,353 crore) and Jharkhand (Rs 5,193 crore).