‘District Mineral Foundation (DMF) proposing to use a part of mining cess for development of mining districts has a long way to go for achieving its objectives, says CSE’s status report.
In about two years’ since the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) came into existence, a total of about Rs 5,800 crore has been collected under DMF Trusts in various mining districts. However, the potential corpus is still higher, as in certain states such as Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, DMFs are yet to be roll out. Also in some big mining districts such as Yavatmal in Maharashtra, Guntur in Andhra Pradesh and Khammam, Adilabad and Karimnagar in Telangana, the collection so far has been much less than what was estimated, according to the ‘District Mineral Foundation (DMF): Status Report 2017’ prepared by a team lead by Chandra Bhushan of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an environmental and sustainability think tank.
Besides fund inflows to DMF Trusts, two determining factors related to DMF implementation are the institutional arrangements of DMFs and planning and allocations for DMF funds. On both these fronts, the progress in most districts is still in the inception stages, according to the report released on July 31, 2018 in New Delhi.
The CSE report is an evaluation of the progress and performance of DMFs in India’s 50 key mining districts across 11 states. The reference period of the study is from institution of DMFs in 2015 till nearly the end of the previous financial year, February 2017.
The fund is clearly a boon for some of India’s poorest and most under-developed districts, many of which are in the country’s top mining states. In India’s top three mining states – Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh – nearly 40 per cent of the people live below the poverty line.
Many districts in these states, also identified as backward districts by the Planning Commission of India (currently, Niti Aayog) fare very poorly in terms of human development indicators such as nutrition and health, mortality rate, access to clean water, sanitation, education, etc. These three states alone account for close to 70 per cent of the total money deposited in DMFs so far. Coal mining districts such as Korba, Angul and Dhanbad have the most significant shares of DMF funds, followed by some of the major iron ore mining districts such as Kendujhar, West Singbhum and Dantewada.
The following are the edited excerpts of the report:
Among the issues that have been prioritised in the first year of allocations by a majority of the districts, drinking water is a common one. Education and health care are two other priority areas that districts have considered, though for all these allocations and approaches vary.
For example, Dhanbad, a highly polluted coal mining district in Jharkhand, has allocated 62.5 per cent of its DMF budget for clean drinking water, which the district largely plans to provide through piped water supply. On the contrary, Singrauli, the top coal mining district of Madhya Pradesh and a critically polluted area, has earmarked a negligible 0.9 per cent of its DMF budget for drinking water – the amount will be devoted entirely for digging tube-wells. Considering the high levels of groundwater contamination in mining areas and low water table in most parts, investing in tube-wells and hand-pumps will do little to ensure clean water supply. The focus rather should be on sustainable water supply measures from surface water and other natural sources, through proper assessment and planning.
In the first year of planning, the districts are also inclined to allocate significant parts of the sectoral allocation for various construction purposes. For instance, on the education front, with few exceptions, a big focus is on construction of school buildings, auditoriums, classrooms etc with very little focus on providing supporting resources that can improve access and quality of education. For example, Kendujhar’s entire education budget is for construction of additional classrooms. Similarly, for women and child welfare, the focus is primarily on construction of Anganwadi Centres, with little or no simultaneous investment in primary healthcare, which is crucial to improve health and nutrition status of children and women. In fact in most districts, investments towards improving primary healthcare remain very low, though this is a pressing problem in all rural mining areas.
With a huge non-lapsable and untied resource envelop, clear objective guiding its implementation, targeted beneficiaries and focussed intervention areas, DMFs hold the promise of addressing years of deprivation and inequality afflicting people living in India’s mining areas. The government has rightly observed that DMF and PMKKKY are “revolutionary” steps. However, the success of this move now lies in its relevance to and participation of, the people, and the transparency and accountability mechanisms through which the institution will operate in the coming years.
With DMF’s coming into effect, the right of the people to benefit from natural resources has been recognised for the first time.
The fund is a boon for some of India’s poorest and most underdeveloped districts, many of which are in the country’s top mining states.
With DMFs coming into effect, the right of the people to benefit from natural resources has been recognised for the first time. DMF, thus, is a vehicle for sharing mining benefits with communities who have only been burdened by such activities. Miners and mining companies are required to pay a sum – determined on the basis of their royalty payments – to the DMF Trust of the district where the mine is located. Provisions of the DMF law is also to be implemented taking into consideration the provisions of important laws ensuring people’s rights – the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), 1996, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (the FRA); and constitutional provisions related to the Fifth and Sixth Schedules for governing tribal areas.
While most of the districts have made allocations for certain “high priority” issues, the allocations in various cases are ad hoc and short-sighted.
For full report follow the link: https://www.cseindia.org/people-first-district-mineral-foundation-dmf--8893