Farmers may soon get insurance cover for crop damages caused by elephant raids and migration under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The Union environment ministry is in talks with the agriculture ministry on the issue, and is expected to soon move an official proposal on the issue. Union environment, forest and climate change minister Prakash Javadekar has agreed to the proposal in-principle, senior officials from the ministry said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana provides for insurance cover against crop loss caused by natural calamities. Farmers have to pay 2% premium for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops while in the case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, 5% premium has to be paid.According to the last official estimation study, there are more than 30,000 elephants in the country across 16 states with high concentration in north-eastern states and southern states. Elephants cover large distances in herds and they raid croplands for food or cross through them during migrations, causing major crop damages and financial losses to farmers.Obstruction of the natural migratory path of elephants, fragmentation of elephant corridors due to human interference and lack of legal protection for elephant corridors are some of the chief causes of elephants raiding crops or entering habitation, ministry officials said.”Crop raiding by elephants happens frequently in north-eastern states, eastern states and southern states. From forested areas, elephants are known to migrate long distances through human habitations and croplands. This often happens at night and thus curbing crop damage is extremely difficult,” said a senior official from environment ministry.As per official data, in 2014-15 alone, Rs 34.5 crore worth compensation was paid for crop damages due to elephants by Centre and State agencies. In 2013-14 and 2012-13 the compensation paid was Rs30 crore and Rs34 crore respectively. Apart from the crop damages, human-elephant conflict also claims nearly 400 people and more than 100 elephants each year.The central-eastern landscape sees some of the worst cases of crop damages and human-elephant conflict across Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. According to environment ministry data, Odisha sees average crop damage of 14,097 acres, Chhattisgarh has sees 12,230 acres of average crop damage per year while in West Bengal it is 2500-3000 acres of average crop damage per year.
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