Fishermen fret over vital insurance cover with Cyclone Yaas set to strike

Topics Cyclone | IMD | Fishermen

Fishermen carry a boat to a safe place ahead of cyclone Yaas at Puri beach (Photo: PTI)
With Cyclone Yaas hitting the eastern Indian Coast just days after Cyclone Tauktae devastated the western coastline, millions of fishermen, who are among the most vulnerable groups when such catastrophes strike, are anxiously awaiting clarity on their annual insurance cover.

The reason for this is that the cover provided under the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY), which is a vital safety net for them, ended almost a year back on May 31, 2020. Ever since, there hasn’t been much progress on the higher insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh promised under the newly launched Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY).

Fishermen were entitled to a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for loss of lives under the PMSBY, which has been promised to be raised to Rs 5 lakh a year under the newly launched PMMSY.  

However, even after one year since the first scheme ended, the new one hasn’t gone on stream.

The main cooperative of fishermen, the National Federation of Fishers Cooperative Ltd (FISHCOPFED) had been the nodal agency to channelise insurance cover for fishermen for the past several years. However, under the PMMSY, the Hyderabad-based National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) has been made the nodal agency for the insurance scheme.

Sources say of the estimated 25 million fishermen in India, 3-4 million avail insurance cover every year.

The registration and enrollment of fishermen for insurance coverage under the PMMSY has to be done by the state governments, which sources said is taking time in the absence of clear guidelines from the Centre on the insurance scheme.

“We are awaiting the release of clear guidelines from the Centre and as soon as they are available, the enrollment of fishermen for the enhanced insurance cover will start,” a senior official from NFDB said.

Till that happens, millions of fishermen will continue to face uncertainty particularly when their livelihoods are being hit by back-to-back cyclones.

Cyclone Yaas, meanwhile is likely to cross north Odisha-West Bengal coasts between Paradip and Sagar Islands around May 26 noon as a "very severe cyclonic storm".

It is expected to bring in winds of 155-165 km an hour, gusting up to 180 kmph, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness of the state and central agencies to deal with the situation, and called for timely evacuation of those engaged in offshore activities. Monday, Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with Chief Ministers of states likely to be affected.

The armed forces are also on alert, with the Navy putting four warships and a number of aircraft on standby.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has earmarked a total of 149 teams for evacuation and rescue operations, of which 99 will be deployed on the ground and 50 will be available at its various bases across the country for quick airlift, if required.

News reports said that state governments of West Bengal and Odisha, which will fall right on the path of the cyclone, have begun evacuating thousands of people from the coastline.

Trade and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said during his interaction with business chambers present in the East Coast, that special care is being taken to ensure the safety of barges at sea, following the unfortunate episode of last week, when more than 70 people working in a barge in the Arabian Sea died after cyclone Tauktae struck.

Last week, Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful cyclone to hit India's west coast in over two decades, barreled inland killing more than 150 and leaving a trail of destruction. 

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel