TIRUCHI: The State government is likely to seek an extension of deadline for coverage under the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS) this season so that farmers were compensated adequately for the damages caused by Cyclone Nisha.

The move comes in the wake of the extensive damage caused to crops across the entire delta region and some other districts in the State. Though the last date for payment of premium under the scheme for the samba season was December 15, the Agriculture Insurance Company has stopped accepting premiums under the scheme after the rains.

“The principal of insurance is that it should be done before there was any visible damage to the crop,” explained P.Anbarasu, Regional Manager, Agriculture Insurance Company, Chennai.

But there has been a demand from a section of farmers in the delta that the company should continue to accept premiums under the scheme at least till December 15.

“We are thinking of asking the Agriculture Insurance Company to extend the deadline for the coverage at least by a week,” Agriculture Secretary Surjit K.Choudhary told The Hindu over telephone on Tuesday, when asked for his response. While government agencies and farmers were still assessing the full extent of the damage (as the flood water is yet to drain in certain places), Mr.Choudhary agreed that the extent of damage has been unprecedented.

“This is the first time in history that the entire delta region, right from the upper reaches to the tail end, has been affected. The damage has been enormous and no farmer in the delta has escaped; all of them have been affected though the extent of the loss may vary,” observed S.Renganathan, Secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association.

Farmers say that over 75 per cent of the cultivated area in the delta could have been affected.

Given the scale and extent of damage, the focus has now shifted to the question: how best the government could compensate the farmers for the losses adequately?

There has been a line of thinking among farmers’ representatives in the delta region that the best way to tackle the issue would be to get the farmers compensated under the NAIS. But with the damage already done, whether the claims would be legally tenable remains a moot point. Farmers suggest that it could be done as a special case if the matter was taken up at the highest level in the Union government.

“There is a contention that farmers were not able to pay the premium due to rains,” Mr.Anbarasu said.