Ahmednagar district: Agriculture dept unearths bid to manipulate weather data, officials suspect ploy to file higher claims under insurance scheme

Written by Partha Sarathi Biswas | Pune |

Updated: September 12, 2020 10:02:38 pm

Once enrolled within the scheme, farmers can apply for compensation if an ‘excessive weather occasion’ destroys their crops. (File picture/Representational)

In an uncommon transfer, the state Agriculture division has filed an FIR in opposition to unknown miscreants for tampering with the readings of an computerized weather station (AWS) in Ahmednagar district. Officials of the division suspect that the tampering was completed to bolster bogus claims made under the state authorities’s Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS).

WBCIS supplies protection to horticulture crops and farmers in Maharashtra have enthusiastically enrolled for the scheme. Farmers insure crops equivalent to pomegranate and banana to assist them cushion in opposition to incidents of crop loss due to excessive local weather occasions. Given the very fact the premium paid by farmers is far decrease than the compensation acquired in case of crop loss, most farmers make it a degree to insure their crops proper in the beginning of the season.

Once enrolled, farmers can apply for compensation if an ‘extreme weather event’ destroys their crops. Before the claims are settled, they’re verified by the insurance firms, which additionally examine the native weather information. The information is collected from 2,092 weather stations put in in each income circle of the state. Each income circle is liable for assortment of weather information for the 5 to 10 villages under it.

The information is, subsequently, necessary to settle claims of crop loss due to excessive weather occasions like heavy rain, excessive chilly or excessive rise in temperature. Data from the stations are captured each 10 minutes and shared with the central web site of the Agriculture division.

That one thing was amiss this 12 months was detected by meteorologists liable for observing the info, who discovered anomalies within the information recorded from the Deodaithan income circle in Shrigonda taluka of Ahmednagar district. Between August 28 to September 2, the weather station reported medium to heavy rainfall however the accompanying readings of different parameters didn’t point out rain.

“For example, we know of a certain behaviour of all five readings in case an area receives rain, but the observed parameters did not match the same. This prompted us to raise the red flag… we thought the measuring instruments had malfunctioned,” stated an official.

On August 28, the station recorded solely 9 mm of rain, however the quantum of rain recorded by the info was rather more. “Red flags were already raised over the anomaly in the readings from this circle, so a close watch was kept on the data generated from this station. On a certain day, the rainfall recorded was 59 mm in a span of just 10 minutes, which almost meant that the station had witnessed a cloud burst like situation,” stated the officer.

The Agriculture division even despatched engineers to the location to examine whether or not the devices had been malfunctioning, however they had been discovered to be in working situation.

A particular crew, comprising income and agriculture officers, was shaped to look into the matter. Local villagers confirmed that there was gentle rainfall, however no heavy or very heavy rainfall within the space, on that day. “It was clear that someone had tried to manipulate the rainfall data by physically pouring water into the rain gauge. A complaint was filed with the local police station against unknown people for tampering with the measuring device,” stated an officer of the Agriculture division.

This will not be the primary time that the state authorities has confronted makes an attempt to tamper weather station information. Last 12 months, three FIRs had been registered in Jalgaon district in opposition to unknown individuals who had tried to affect the temperature measurement within the AWS by inserting ice on the measuring devices.

“Again, the sharp deviation of other parameters had flagged the situation, following which FIRs were lodged,” stated the official.

Department officials imagine that the newest try to manipulate information could also be to make sure that the factors wanted for fee of compensation are met in localised areas. But additionally they warned that in the long term, tampering with the info will compromise its accuracy and worth, and this is able to be detrimental for the sector.

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