BHUBANESWAR: District Mineral Foundations (DMF) funds in Odisha are being spent in urban projects instead of addressing the needs of people in areas directly affected by mining, stated an assessment report of New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The report released here on Tuesday cited the case of Sundargah district where `113 crore has been given for piped drinking water supply in three municipalities which are not even directly-affected by mining while the worst-affected Koida block suffering from severe water pollution has got only `7.5 crore.
Similarly, in Jharsuguda district, more than `13 crore from DMF funds has been sanctioned for providing power supply to the local airport. Odisha has topped DMF fund collection in the country with around `5,000 crore till March this year. Keonjhar (`1,524 crore), Angul (`836 crore), Sundargarh (`780 crore) and Jharsuguda (`275 crore) are the top contributors.
“There is huge scope for mining districts to address some of the pressing issues of the affected communities. Unfortunately, none has developed a comprehensive DMF plan to ensure need-based investments in affected areas,” Deputy Director General of CSE Chandra Bhushan said.
The study found, of `2,589 crore sanctioned so far for projects under DMF, over 33 per cent has been for building roads and bridges. “In Keonjhar, about `396 crore has been sanctioned for construction of a medical college. This is despite the fact that only about four per cent of the villages in the district have access to a primary health centre within five-km radius,” said CSE programme manager Srestha Banerjee.
Responding to the report, Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan said Odisha is focusing on convergence for DMF implementation as it brings in various issues that are being looked by different departments. Highlighting issues that need to be re-looked to improve DMF implementation, Balakrishnan stressed effective involvement of PRI members in planning and execution.