DMF funds projects execution slow in mining dists

The Pioneer | March 16, 2021

There has been tardy progress in the implementation of projects under the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds in the State.According to the Government of Odisha’s Rural Development Department Annual Activity Report (2020-21) tabled in the State Assembly on Saturday, four important DMF active districts, such as Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Jajpur and Koraput, have made some progress even though they are lagging behind on the project implementation front. Assessments were done on three important infrastructure, road, bridge and building.

It is revealed that out of 222 approved road projects, 94 projects are completed and work is under progress in 91 projects. While out of Rs 56,196 .96 lakh sanctioned, utilisation certificates (UCs) have been given in respect of only Rs 18,817.57 lakh though the spending is to the tune of Rs 23,763 lakh.

Similarly, out of 312 building projects, 233 projects have been completed and work is under progress in 63 projects. By the end of January 2021, out of total Rs 17,817.92 lakh sanctioned for these projects, Rs 10,596.59 lakh was spent and UCs were given only for Rs 9,425.91 lakh.

And out of 39 bridge projects, 17 have been completed and work is under progress in respect of 13. Though Rs 5,867.48 lakh was sanctioned for these projects, UCs were given for Rs 2,866 lakh, while the actual spending was Rs 3,070 lakh.

Data available for these districts reveal that Keonjhar and Jajpur have done significant progress in building road projects. Out of total Rs 13,271.64 lakh sanctioned for Keonjhar, the actual spending was of Rs 5,369.00 lakh but UCs were given for only Rs 3,900.57 lakh.

Of the bridge projects, out of 38 approved projects for Sundargarh, 17 projects were completed within the stipulated time and work was under progress in 12 more projects, but UCs were given for Rs 2,823 lakh whereas actual spending made was of Rs 3,027 lakh.

The total sanctioned amount was Rs 5,789.48 lakh. In Koraput out of 39 approved projects, 17 have been completed and work is under progress in 13 projects. Out of the total Rs 5,867.48 lakh approved cost, only Rs 3,070 lakh was spent and UCs were given only for Rs 2,866 lakh.

The building projects were done in a fairly better way as far as completion of the projects is concerned. Out of 312 sanctioned projects, 233 were completed and work was under progress in 63 projects in the leading DMF active districts like Angul,Jajpur,Keonjhar,Sundargarh and Jharsuguda. While Angul, Jajpur, Keonjhar and Jharsuguda did better in project completion, Sundargarh lagged behind. In utilisation of money Angul,Keonjhar and Jharsuguda did better whereas Jajpur and Sundargarh did perform poorly.

Though Rs 996.94 lakh was spent in Jajpur, the administration submitted UCs for only Rs 467.14 lakh. Similarly, Sundargarh produced UCs for Rs 1,785.65 lakh out of sanctioned amount of Rs 2,206.65 lakh. The report of RD Department states that since implementation of the scheme in 2016-17, in total 423 road works, 312 buildings and 89 bridge works (total 824 projects) have been sanctioned by the district level DMF headed by the Collectors in these districts.

The main objective behind the setting up the DMF was to implement various development and welfare schemes and projects in mining affected areas to minimise the adverse impact caused by mining to socio-economic, environment and health of the people and the area.

Odisha’s District Mineral Foundation fund collection highest in country

The Times of India | March 11, 2021
BHUBANESWAR: Odisha has collected the highest amount of Rs 11,984 crore among all the states under the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) fund since it was created in 2015, Union mines minister Pralhad Joshi told Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Till January, a total of Rs 45,095.86 crore in DMF fund was generated in the country. Odisha got more than one-fourth of the share, the minister’s written reply revealed. Neighbouring Jharkhand (Rs 6,533.04 crore) and Chhattisgarh (Rs 6,329.78 crore) managed to collect the second and third highest amounts under DMF. Rajasthan is fourth, having collected Rs 4,496 crore.

The funds are contribution from mining companies operating in the respective districts, which has been mandated under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015. The mining companies pay 30% equivalent of the royalty amount for leases given before 2015 and 10% for leases granted after that when auction of mines and mineral blocks started.

A government officer said Odisha being a mine-bearing state, it is natural for it to garner the maximum amount, the bulk coming from coal, iron ore and bauxite.

Against an available amount of Rs 11,984 crore, the state has spent Rs 5,364 crore by January this year. The amount spent is also the highest in the country, though in percentage terms the state’s spending at 44.76% is marginally less than the national average of 45.10%. Countrywide, Rs 20,337.35 crore has been spent from DMF fund. Chhattisgarh has spent the highest 69.04% (Rs 4,370 crore) followed by Tamil Nadu at 54% (Rs 413.29 crore).

The ministry of mines had circulated guidelines for implementation of Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojna (PMKKKY) in September 2015 on the use of DMF fund.

Though DMF has been constituted in all districts in Odisha, the seven districts of Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Jajpur, Angul, Jharsuguda, Koraput and Rayagada account for 90% of the funds. Some of the districts such as Sundargarh and Keonjhar used DMF fund for enhancing Covid care infrastructure. Many districts have used the funds to strengthen primary health centres besides livelihood and nutrition support programmes, among others.

No plan to increase coal royalty for Odisha: Union minister Pralhad Joshi

The New Indian Express | Feb 11, 2021
The Centre has made it clear that there is no plan to increase royalty on coal and non-coal minerals for states like Odisha.

BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has made it clear that there is no plan to increase royalty on coal and non-coal minerals for states like Odisha. Replying to a question from Sasmit Patra (BJD), Union Minister for Coal and Mines Pralhad Joshi told Rajya Sabha that at present, states concerned are collecting royalty at 14 per cent (pc) ad-valorem on price of coal.

In addition, contribution towards District Mineral Foundation (DMF) at 30 pc of the royalty in respect of mining leases granted before January 12, 2015 and 10 pc on or after January 12, 2015 is also being collected by the states.

The Minister said due to ad-valorem nature of rates of royalty, there is increase in revenue to the coal producing states as and when price of coal increases. The decision has been taken basing the report of a study group constituted on July 21, 2014 for examining the issue of revision of royalty rates on coal and lignite.

The study group had submitted its report suggesting no change in the rates of royalty which the Centre accepted, he said. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during a virtual meeting with Joshi and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in December 2020 had made a strong plea for revision of royalty for coal and non-coal minerals.

Chhattisgarh Government’s English Medium Schools Runs Out Of Seats Amid High Demand

The Logical Indian Crew Chhattisgarh | 26 Jan 2021
The government had received as many as 60,000 applications for admission in a span of three months but admitted only 28,000 students due to limited availability of seats.

The Bhupesh Baghel-led Chhattisgarh government’s English medium schools are in high demand in the state. To bring government-aided institutions at par with its private counterpart, 52 English medium schools under the name of Swami Atmanand, a well-known educationist from Raipur, were set up in the first phase of rebuilding the structure. According to The Print, these schools were formally inaugurated on the state’s foundation day on November 1, 2020, but the enrollment procedure had already started in August. The government had received as many as 60,000 applications in a span of three months but admitted only 28,000 students due to limited availability of seats.

“We are moving ahead to complete one of our dream projects to ensure greater access to quality education in uniquely conceptualised English medium government schools. Improving education should remain a critical area of investment and the students’ performance should be the indicator of success”, said Chief Minister Baghel, reported The New Indian Express.

Swami Atmanand English Medium Schools

The state-run schools mainly cater to the children belonging to the economically weaker section of the society. The idea behind this is the notion that access to the English language is the right of the elite. Hence such targeted measures to bring a shift in the mindset in the society plays a key role.

English is taught to students from primary classes and around 500 seats have been fixed for the same for each school till secondary level. Reports have pointed out that the school infrastructure has been refurbished with clean ambience around the campus, while the buildings have been beautified and are equipped with adequate furniture. The schools are equipped with science labs, smart classrooms and libraries stocked with inspirational literature and grounds with multi-sporting facilities would help in bettering the learning experience. Reportedly the experienced and qualified teachers are also turning to such schools in search for better opportunities and well-paying stint.

“The effort to set up government-owned English medium schools became extremely popular in the first year (2020) itself. Further admissions were stopped after enrollment of about 28,000 students before November due to jostling between the parents for admissions and a heavy influx of recommendations,” said Alok Shukla, Principal Secretary, State School Education Department. “The quality parameters of these schools were determined keeping in mind private schools and their students’ performance. It will not be proper to compromise with the quality of education by providing admissions to more than available,” he added. The government had been facing persistent demand from the public to set up educational institutions that would provide quality education with an affordable fee structure. “English learning has become indispensable for the children to keep pace with the modern world. There was a huge demand for government English medium school from parents. Also, the Chhattisgarh government believes that no child should be deprived of the opportunity for education of his or her choice mainly due to parents’ inability to pay the cost. However, there is no hurry in opening new schools as we are moving in a planned way. Other editions of the schools will be rolled out only when entire infrastructure is put in place,” Shukla explained. “I never thought my daughter could ever study in such an outstanding English medium school,” said an Ajay Pandey, resident of Mahasamund district. The Chief Minister had during one of his addresses had said that his government would work towards resolving concerns for the overall development of the state and that a lack of money will never come in the way of progress. Surprisingly, there have been reports that parents reached out to local political leaders seeking help in getting their wards enrolled in such schools. “It was quite surprising for me that almost 100 parents – from many districts including Raipur – sought recommendation from me to get their kids enrolled in government English medium schools. Apart from enrollments, parents also demanded the opening of more such schools,” said Raipur Congress MLA Vikas Upadhyay. Congress spokesman R.P Singh also shared a similar experience. “I recommended nearly 50 names for admission in these schools on parents’ requests. If the experiment of Government English medium schools succeeds, then, I must say, 25 per cent private schools in the state will have to be shut down in the coming years,” he said. The District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds are channelised by the respective district collectors to meet the expenses. On the road ahead, the Chief Minister had said that the state is planning to raise the number of such schools from the existing 52 to 100 from the next academic session across 28 districts.

Sundargarh DMF fund finds way to non-priority sectors

The New Indian Express | Jan 16, 2021

When it comes to using the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) fund, Sundargarh district appears to have a soft corner for Rourkela.

ROURKELA: When it comes to using the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) fund, Sundargarh district appears to have a soft corner for Rourkela. The DMF guidelines are clear about priority and non-priority areas but DMF funds find their way to the Steel City which is neither directly nor indirectly affected by mining, a criteria for spending the funds.

Last year, when Rourkela Police unveiled a fleet of 25 brand new Innova Crystas to patrol the roads of Rourkela, eyebrows were raised because the multi utility vehicles were procured using 4.65 crore from the DMF. Of the 25 MUVs, 20 are meant for Rourkela while five are deployed in Bonai sub-division. Interestingly, before that the district administration is learnt to have spent 25.52 lakh from DMF pool for what it called ‘engagement of police patrolling and traffic management’ for Rourkela city, reveals information secured through RTI. How the new vehicles helped police intensify patrol is another story, given the spate of crimes that rocked the Steel City last year.

RTI activist Rashmi Ranjan Padhi citing the RTI reply said the administration spent ` 25.52 lakh towards ‘engagement of police patrolling and traffic management’ in Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) limits but details were not provided, not even year of expenditure. However, reliable sources informed that the expenditure was incurred during 2017-18 towards hiring of police patrol vehicle for Rourkela.

“Rourkela city is not directly or indirectly affected by mining operation. Besides, using DMF on swanky MUVs and police patrolling makes very little sense,” said Padhi, who also is former Secretary of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC).As per available information, the total collection of Sundargarh DMF stood at 2,133.27 crore till June 30, 2020. Till then, at least 2,094.12 crore was spent or work orders awarded against 3,672 projects. Padhi claims that many of the spendings do not comply to DMF norms.

The mineral foundation released 78.56 lakh towards construction of main gate, boundary wall and 30 shops at Madri Kalo Bhawan of Sundargarh town. Similarly, approval was given for 64.99 lakh towards construction of boundary wall of a truck terminal at Amlipali in Sundargarh town in February 2019. In July 2020, ` 49.12 lakh was sanctioned towards raising of boundary wall and barbed fencing of Circuit House of Sundargarh town. Sundargarh Collector and DMF Chairman-Cum-Managing-Trustee Nikhil Pawan Kalyan did not reply to written request for comment.

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