DMF funds not helping those worst-hit by mining, finds survey

DMF funds not helping those worst-hit by mining, finds survey
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New Delhi, Aug 6: A recent survey of the district mineral foundation (DMF) scheme for mining-affected areas, conducted by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), has found that DMF collected more than Rs 19,000 crore funds nationally since 2015, but the amount wasn’t utilized to benefit those worst-affected or displaced by mining.
Five states — Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan — account for 72% of total DMF collection, the survey revealed.
DMF, mandated through the Mines and Minerals Act 2015, stipulates that miners pay a part of their royalty for the well-being of mining-affected people so that they too benefit from natural resources in their area. State governments have drafted rules for the utilization of DMF, which stipulate that the gram sabha be included in the DMF body to identify beneficiaries for the scheme.
However, CSE researchers who evaluated 12 states — with focus on five that make more than 70% of the total DMF fund accrual — found that no DMF Trust has identified its beneficiaries (those who are affected by mining). In fifth schedule areas dominated by tribal populations, the gram sabha even ought to approve and monitor usage of DMF funds, but no participation of gram sabha was found even in those areas.
Instead, the DMF body in all states assessed was found to be dominated by government officials. “The people are represented by political members such as Members of Parliament and Legislative Assembly (MP and MLA), or in some cases, elected Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members. In seven out of the top 12 states reviewed, MLAs and MPs are part of the DMF body. Apart from this, various state governments — Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh — have assumed a central role to direct DMF investments,” the CSE report titled “People First: District Mineral Foundation (DMF) Status Report, 2018” states.
In fact, Telangana has even amended its DMF rules in June 2018 to withdraw participation of gram sabha from the DMF body, the report revealed.
In many cases, researchers found that districts have left out the people and areas worst-hit by mining from the DMF fund allocation. For instance, Jharkhand’s top coal mining district Dhanbad — where sanctions worth Rs 935 crore were collected — has left out Jharia, one of the worst mining-affected areas of the district from the fund allocation list.
Despite being on the national radar for poor nutrition and under-five mortality rates, researchers found very little spending on nutrition or healthcare. In Odisha’s Sundargarh for example, only Rs 3 crore has been provided for child development out of the district’s Rs 745 crore sanctions. Under-five mortality rates in rural areas of the district are high and nearly 50% children below five have stunted growth. Spending on nutrition is also low in Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli, Bengal’s West Singhbhum and Rajasthan’s Bhilwara districts, despite poor nutrition levels.