DMF funds not utilised suitably, says report
Though ranked among the top States in terms of collection of funds under District Mineral Foundation (DMF), a first independent assessment of the scheme, done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, has found gaps in spending of DMF funds in Odisha as a lot remains to be achieved in getting benefit.
SAMBALPUR: Though ranked among the top States in terms of collection of funds under District Mineral Foundation (DMF), a first independent assessment of the scheme, done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, has found gaps in spending of DMF funds in Odisha as a lot remains to be achieved in getting benefit.
The assessment report of the New Delhi-based NGO reveals that Odisha remains the top State in terms of DMF accruals so far, with about `1,933 crore collected until the end of 2016-17, but getting benefit from the DMF remains a far cry. District Mineral Foundation is a trust set up as a non-profit body, in those districts affected by the mining works, to work for the interest of persons and areas affected by mining-related operations. It is funded through the contributions from miners.
Three districts, Keonjhar, Sundargarh and Jharsuguda, dealt with ‘high priority areas’ such as drinking water supply, education and healthcare, which are indicated in the State DMF Rules, but allocations and approaches to address these ‘high priority’ issues are varied.
The report has questioned allocation of one-third of DMF for providing access to clean drinking water when only 3 to 4 per cent of rural households in the districts have access to clean drinking water. The report also questions high level of groundwater contamination in mining areas, a fact well recognised by authorities such as Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).
A report finds a major gap in the State in the institutional mechanisms being set up under DMF. None of the DMF Trusts in the State have been registered yet. Also the allocations in various sectors show no contemplative approach to planning. To deal with this, the Odisha Government has directed districts with annual receipts of more than `100 crore to set up Project Management Units (PMUs) to assist in planning, monitoring and evaluation of DMFs.
While Keonjhar and Sundargarh have identified private consultants to award the work, no headway has been made in Angul, Jajpur and Jharsuguda districts. However, the report questions the effectiveness of these PMUs in delivering social justice to mining affected people, which is the central edict of DMF. The approach also ignores the basic mandate of making people part of planning process, the report opines.