In a significant step towards addressing the safety and well-being of agricultural workers, the Punjab State Marketing Board (PSMB) has taken the lead in implementing comprehensive insurance coverage for farmers and agricultural labourers. The move aims to provide rehabilitation and compensation to victims of farm accidents, offering support to those affected by mishaps and casualties in the agricultural sector.
As farm mechanisation gains momentum, the use of machinery and equipment such as tractors, power tillers, combine harvesters, and more has increased to enhance productivity and reduce drudgery. However, this transition has also led to a rise in accidents and casualties within the agricultural community due to various factors such as unsafe machinery, lack of knowledge, harsh weather conditions, and negligence.
To address these concerns and safeguard the well-being of agricultural labourers, the Dangerous Machines (Regulation) Act, 1983 (DMRA) was implemented, aiming to provide compensation to injured or deceased users of faulty machinery. Additionally, PSMB has played a significant role in rehabilitating accident victims by offering comprehensive insurance coverage.
The scheme, initiated in 1984, has received widespread acclaim and is adopted by states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh. Under this social welfare scheme, financial assistance is provided to farmers, their families, agricultural labourers, and workers involved in farming. The compensation covers accidents related to various farm operations and the marketing of agricultural produce.
The Punjab State Marketing Board bears the insurance premium and compensation costs using the revenue collected from market fees and the Rural Development Fund (RDF) from procurement agencies. Compensation amounts range from ₹10,000 to 2,00,000 depending on the nature of the accident.
Similar initiatives have been undertaken in Rajasthan, Haryana, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh, offering monetary relief to accident victims and their families. The compensation process involves reporting the incident to the nearest market committee office, followed by document verification by a committee to ensure prompt dispersal of aid.
In addition to the rehabilitation and compensation scheme, the state government has also launched the ‘Bhagat Puran Singh Sehat Bima Yojna,’ a cashless health insurance scheme that covers farmers and their families in case of accidental death or permanent disabilities.