The FIR says that the company staffers prepared false panchnama reports (survey forms), forged signatures of agriculture department officials to under-report the crop losses incurred due to unseasonal rains and other natural reasons, and prima facie cheated farmers to the tune of Rs 3,95,09,177
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Police have registered a case against 10 personnel of a leading private insurance company empanelled for the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in Maharashtra's Akola district for allegedly duping farmers to the tune of Rs 3.95 crore by submitting false information about their crop losses, an official said on Thursday.
The complaint in this connection was lodged by District Agriculture Superintendent Dr Murlidhar Ingle against the staff of ICICI Lombard insurance company, based on which a first information report (FIR) was registered on March 21 at Khadan police station in Akola.
The FIR says that the company staffers prepared false panchnama reports (survey forms), forged signatures of agriculture department officials to under-report the crop losses incurred due to unseasonal rains and other natural reasons, and prima facie cheated farmers to the tune of Rs 3,95,09,177.
The 10 personnel of the company were booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 409 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 465, 467, 468 and 471 (all related to forgery), and 34 (common intention), it said.
The complaint said that ICICI Lombard insurance company was appointed to implement the 'Pradhan Mantri Crop Insurance Scheme' in Akola district for the kharif season 2022-23.
Under this scheme, crop damage assessment is conducted in the presence of an agriculture department official, the affected farmer and a representative of the insurance company. The panchnama report is considered admissible after all the participants sign on it, it said.
From May last year, the farmers in Akola, Barshitakli, Murtijapur, Akot, Balapur, Telhara and Patur tehsils of the district informed the company within the set deadline about the crop losses they suffered due to natural calamities. Weekly meetings were held at the district level regarding compensation and discussions were started on farmers' grievances.
But it was observed that no survey was conducted for compensation in Barshitakali taluka. A similar situation was observed in other talukas of the district, the complaint said.
The insurance amount paid by the company was less than the actual loss suffered by the farmers and the affected area was also under-reported, it said.
In its official statement, ICICI Lombard said, "We are aware of the recent developments regarding the crop insurance case in Akola. We are cooperating with the authorities in their investigation. We remain committed to serving our customers with transparency and integrity and will continue to work closely with the Agriculture Department as per the provisions of PMFBY operational guidelines."
In the past, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) had staged protests in this regard across the district. The party workers had allegedly also ransacked the office of ICICI Lombard company in Murtijapur and party MP Arvind Sawant had written a letter to the Union agriculture minister against the company's alleged malpractices.
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