Study on District Mineral Foundations: ‘Too much state govt intervention in deciding fund usage’https://indianexpress.com/article/business/commodities/study-on-district-mineral-foundations-too-much-state-govt-intervention-in-deciding-fund-usage-5285428/

Study on District Mineral Foundations: ‘Too much state govt intervention in deciding fund usage’

The study reviewed 50 mining districts across 12 top mining states — including Odisha, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — to understand how DMF trusts operate.

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The study added that there is practically no scope of representation of Gram Sabha members in the DMF of any state.

None of the District Mineral Foundations (DMFs) have identified its mining-affected people as its beneficiaries; DMF administration in most states is dominated by bureaucrats and political representatives; there is a lack of clear planning due to absence of a proper administrative set-up; there is too much state government intervention in deciding how DMF funds will be used — these are some of the findings of a study done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which was released Tuesday.

The study reviewed 50 mining districts across 12 top mining states — including Odisha, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — to understand how DMF trusts operate.

“Beneficiaries have not been identified anywhere. The approach is primarily on area development, depending on the location of mines or mining-related activities. While people living in the vicinity of mines are certainly affected, the area-specific approach leaves out some of the most crucial beneficiaries, such as people who have been displaced by mining and people who have lost their livelihoods (including forest-based livelihoods) due to mining,” the study stated.

The study added that there is practically no scope of representation of Gram Sabha members in the DMF of any state. “To make matters worse, some states are now actively removing all scope of Gram Sabha engagement. For example, Telangana amended its DMF rules in June to do so. The power and functions that were earlier vested with the Gram Sabha have now been given to a DMF Committee…(which)is completely represented by members of Parliament, the legislative assembly and legislative council and officials.”

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According to the study, all the aforementioned problems are leading to poorly planned or ad-hoc investments. “There is no clear sense of prioritisation of the most pressing issues, and no systematic planning has happened so far. For example, not even a single district has made the required investments for improving child nutrition and under five mortality rates. This is a categorical problem in most mining-affected districts and is particularly worse in areas with high tribal population,” it stated.

However, senior officials of some mining affected districts gave their viewpoint at a session in New Delhi Tuesday.

Arava Rajkamal, Deputy Commissioner of West Singhbhum in Jharkhand, said: “It is so difficult to procure things in DMF. For example, UNICEF has suggested a ready to eat food… This food you give to severely malnourished kids. So I needed to procure it. It took me six months to pass through departments and ultimately the ministry said that there is a moral hazard.”

Anjaneyulu Dodde, Deputy Commissioner of Dhanbad, said: “We are in a government job and we have to follow rules. The DMF rules are very vague. The amount involved is in crores… if things go wrong, many people will question us.”