On 29th October 2021, a delegation of the Samata team led by executive director Mr. Ravi Rebbapragada met the Honourable governor of Chhattisgarh, Ms. Anusuiya Uikey, and discussed various issues concerning the Adivasi community. The particular focus of the discussion was on the PESA act and its implementation in Fifth Schedule Area. Madam governor heard the problems very carefully and gave a positive response. There were three members in the delegation, Shri Ravi Rebbapragada, Shri Ashok Shrimali, and Vicky Kumar Saw.
A team of delegation representing Mines, Minerals and People (mm&P), a National Level alliance submitted its memorandum to the parliamentarians to raise important issues relating to the tribals and the mining affected community. The delegation was led by Mr. Ravi Rebbapragada, Executive Director of Samata and Chairperson of mines, minerals and People, Mr. Ashok Shrimali, Secretary General from mines, mineral and People and Executive Committee members from the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Goa. The Delegation met Mr. Mansukh Bahi Vasava (MP Lok Sabha, Gujarat), Mr. Prabhu Bhai Vasava (MP Lok Sabha, Gujarat), Mr. Jitendra Chowdhary (MP Rajya Sabha, Tripura), Mr. D. Raja (MP Rajya Sabha, Tamil Nadu), Sadhavi Savitri Bai Phule (MP Lok Sabha, Uttar Pradesh), Prime Minister Office. The issues that were raised include the non-implementation and utilization of DMF funds in all the states; lack of safety for miners across of the country- the recent hazard in the role hole mines in Meghalaya; illegal mining in Goa; false and fabricated cases against tribals across the country; Samata Judgment and its implications in various states; Illegal coal mining in Churulia, West Bengal; granting leases without the gram sabha consent as in the case of coal mining in Godda district by Adani group; displacement due to Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and Bullet train.
The Delegation also met Vice Chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) to put across the issues faced by the tribal people across the country. In context of Goa the following concerns were put forward-
- The Goa Government has approved its Goa Regional Plan 2021 last year (2018) without identifying the tribal areas thereby ignoring the fact that the Goa has about 12% of the tribal population.
2. The Goa Government has failed to constitute the Tribes Advisory Council as per the scheduled V of the Constitution of India. The Goa Government has constituted an interim Tribes Advisory Council without giving any representation to the tribal community members violating the Scheduled V of the Constitution of India.
3. The TSP funds are diverted in large scale in Goa State and hence failed to meet its purpose to benefit the tribal population.
4. The tribals of Goa are kept in total darkness about the provisions of CFR rights which are enshrined under Forest Rights Act, 2006. It appears that the Goa Government want to only implement the individual rights and have no interest to declare the CFR rights thereby defeating the very purpose of enacting the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
5. False and fabricated cases against the tribals who are protesting for their rights and Constitutional Safeguards.
6. Non-Utilization of DMF funds for the mining affected communities.
The issues were taken positively by the Commission and it was assured that the issues will be considered in detail. The Vice –Chairperson of NCST assured that she will make a visit to Goa soon and act on the concerns.
Samata and mines minerals and people (mm&P) organized a District Level Consultation on Children in Mining Area, Illegal Mining, District Mineral Fund (DMF) and Future Generation Fund in collaboration with SETU at Honda Panchayat, Sattari, Goa on 22nd December’ 2018.
The Consultation witnessed the presence of total 62 participants comprising of local government representatives like Panchayat Members, Sarpanch, community members from Sonshi, Soyle, Pissurle and Honda, members of Civil Society Organizations, and Women’ s Groups and Self-Help Groups (SHGs).
There were discussions on the overview of mining throughout the country, various stages of mining, illegal mining, Samata Judgement, situation of children in the mining areas and consequences on their education, health affected due to air and water pollution, malnutrition issues etc., and the need for lobbying National Level regarding Child Rights as they are being violated.
There were discussions on the situation of children in mining areas and it was said that “mining children are nobody’s children and are falling through the cracks” as they are mostly ignored by all the concerned child welfare departments, govt. authorities unaware of the mining children’s inclusion in the respective departments. There is a confusion and lack of clarity as in which department the children in the mining areas should be included and what basic facilities and amenities should be provided to them.
The community people of Sonshi shared that around 70 children of the village and the surrounding villages are struck in their homes and unable to go to school as mining companies after the mining operations came to a standstill following a Supreme Court order, stopped providing the children transport and the roads are inaccessible due to mining dumps placed near the villages. Secretary General of mm&P Ashok Shrimali said that “this is violation of the Right to Education Act and it is the state government’s responsibility to provide free transport for school.”
There were elaborative discussions on District Mineral Fund (DMF), its formation, implementation in all the states and lack of public awareness on the functioning of the DMF. It was found that people are unaware of the DMF which is meant to be utilized for the betterment of the mining affected communities and the funds collected are to be utilized to provide basic amenities like drinking water, sanitation, education, health and environmental conservation and preservation. It was also noticed that there was no community participation of the mining affected communities at the planning, formulation and implementation stage.
Shrimali stated that as per the information available, Goa has about Rs. 186 crore under DMF of which Rs. 10 crore has been utilized. However the ground reality is that due to mismanagement of funds, the amount spent has not benefitted the mining affected communities.
Executive Council Member of mm&P, Goa Ravindra Velip, said that no district has developed a comprehensive DMF plan to ensure need- based investments in mining affected areas. He alleged that while the role of gram sabhas and panchayats are sidelined, no beneficiaries are identified under the scheme.
- 70 children of Sonshi village in Goa struck in homes as mining dumps have made roads inaccessible – Counterview.org
- Mining firms stop school buses, 70 kids stuck at home – The Times of India
- Mining alliance takes up DMF fund – Herald Goa News
- 70 Sonshi kids out of school after mining closure – Navhind Times News
- सोनशीतील विद्याथ्यार्चे भविष्य धोक्यात – Dainik Herald News
- डीएमएफचा निधि खाणग्रास्तांसाठी वापरा – Tarun Bharat News
- सोनशीतील विद्यार्थ्यांसाठी वाहतूक व्यवस्था करावी – Pudhari News
In spite of the Mines Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, 2015, giving instructions to respective state governments to form District Mineral Fund (DMF) Trust, it has taken almost 3 years for most of the states to set it up and frame rules. Worse, its implementation is still lagging, and most people still do not have any clue about what is DMF and that it exists.
Highlighting this at a state-level consultation on Children in Mining Area, Illegal Mining and District Mineral Fund (DMF), organized on December 16 by civil rights organizations, Samata, and mines minerals and people (mm&P), and collaborated by local organizations Jan Sangram Parishat and Sakhi Trust at Ballari, Karnataka, secretary-general mm&P Ashok Shrimali appealed to the Union and State Governments to create awareness among the people about DMF, its process and implementation.
Shirmali urged state governments to involve the affected people in the process of planning and implementation of projects regarding the utilization of DMF funds. He highlighted that “planning process should start from the grass-roots level, after mapping the issues covering various aspects that would be for the benefit of the posterity.”
Youth leader from Sandur, Amreesh and Kondamma, a participant and representative from the mining affected community, stated that women and vulnerable communities like SC/ST should have representation in DMF planning, execution and implementation stages. They also emphasized that DMF funds should be utilized only for the betterment and rehabilitation of the mining affected communities and not for infrastructure purposes.
In the context of Karnataka, it was reflected that after the formation of DMF, Rs 1,220 crore had been collected from the mining firms till October 2018, of which the highest was from Ballari Rs 748 crore. The DMF has proposed 1,451 works estimated at Rs 638 crore, while the expenditure till date has been a mere Rs 48 crore.
- Concern over poor implementation of district mineral fund in Indian states – Counterview.in
- Call to include mining-affected persons in works taken up under DMF funds – The Hindu, Prajavani
Social Media Training Program organised at Mumbai from 19th to 22nd June 2018.