Where is the DMF money meant for people living in mining areas going?

Mongabay | Mayank Aggarwal | 14 January 2021

In 2015, the Indian government introduced a mechanism for establishing the District Mineral Foundations (DMF) which were to drive developmental work in the mining-affected areas.
Over Rs 400 billion have been collected in the fund so far but the implementation remains poor with civil society leaders and experts complaining that transparency in use of this fund and involvement of local communities is missing.
Experts advise that for the DMF mechanism to succeed, districts must focus on the delivery of services rather than a spree of creating only infrastructure, engage local partners for implementation and focus on livelihoods based on natural resources to improve the local economy.
In Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli district, one of the biggest and most polluted coal mining and thermal power hubs in the country, funds meant to drive development for the people living there, have been used for the construction of an air-strip. For communities that have been bearing the brunt of mining pollution, development in the form of a space for aircrafts to land, reflects the imbalance between the purpose and implementation of the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds.

DMFs were introduced in January 2015 by the government of India in all districts in the country affected by mining-related operations. The provision was hailed as a golden pill for the upliftment of such areas. Now, six years later, it has failed to deliver on its promise and is stuck in a bureaucratic- and politician-heavy approach.

The provision was brought through the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Ordinance, 2015 which called for establishing the DMFs in all mining-affected districts and using funds collected under this for the welfare of people of such areas. It was followed by the government, in February 2015, introducing the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 to amend the 1957 version of the law in Lok Sabha which passed it in March 2015.

In September 2015, the government notified the rates of contribution payable by miners into the DMFs. It said in case of all mining leases executed before January 12, 2015, miners will have to contribute an amount equal to 30 percent of the royalty payable by them while in case of mining leases granted after that, the rate of contribution would be 10 percent of the royalty payable.

Following this, by now, the DMFs have been constituted in 574 districts in 21 states with about Rs. 41,650 crore (Rs. 416 billion) till September 2020.

The exact composition and functions of the DMFs were to be decided by the state governments but the amendment of the law had specified that use of this fund has to be in line with the provisions of the Panchayats (Extensions to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 and Forest Rights Act, 2006. Experts and civil society leaders note that it has not been the case.

Srestha Banerjee, who works as the natural resources programme lead with the International Forum for Environment, Sustainability and Technology (iForest), a think-tank working on environmental and sustainability issues, noted that government’s approach to ensuring the use of the money available under the DMF mechanism is top-heavy where the trusts responsible for their use are dominated by officials and politicians.

“This packing of the DMF body with politicians and officials who are to take decisions on how the DMF money should be used, with little representation of the local people ensures that the true spirit of the DMFs is not reflected in the projects that are decided in mining-affected areas. The idea enshrined in the law related to DMF was to ensure that it is used for the welfare of ming affected communities, including tribal and forest-dwelling communities, by including them in the decision-making process. The law thus required DMFs to function in line with our Constitutional provisions as related to Scheduled areas, the FRA and PESA. But that has not happened and that is among the biggest problems of the DMF so far.”

Chinmayi Shalya, an independent researcher, who has worked on the issue of DMF, said “DMF is a very special fund” as it was “created to benefit a specific section of people – the mining-affected communities” and because “it is not tied to any specific scheme or specific area of work.”

“The fund does not lapse at the end of a financial year, like many other funds. It keeps accumulating in the DMF Trust account. These provisions give a huge scope to plan its use for more than what other schemes provide for, improve and expand upon what already exists and innovate beyond that as well,” Shalya told Mongabay-India.

In India, the share of the mining and quarrying sector is less than two percent of the country’s gross domestic product right now but the government aims to at least double by 2023. Without effective transition policies, ambition could negatively impact the communities living in and around mining-affected areas.

In many mining areas across the country, the lives of the affected communities and biodiversity including forest and water bodies have undergone a transition for the worse. People are facing pollution of their natural resources and their agriculture yield has been impacted. The development that was promised to them in lieu of minerals being extracted from their land has not reached them.

The governments have realised that the transition of mining areas has not been ‘just’ for many people. In December 2020, while speaking at a function of the Confederation of the Indian Industry, Chairman and Managing Director of Coal India Limited Pramod Agrawal said that in order to help grow the mining activity, it needs to be sustainable through reducing air, water pollution and reducing the carbon footprint.

Funds under the DMFs were meant to bring a positive transition in the lives of such communities but the programme seems to be derailing.

The use, misuse and abuse of the DMFs
The years gone by are in fact a witness of many stories of DMF’s use, misuse and abuse.

For instance, Rajesh Tripathi of Chhattisgarh-based Jan Chetna Manch, a social group working for the mining-affected people, said over Rs. 250 crore (Rs. 2.5 billion) were collected for Raigarh district under the DMF-related provision but there is no transparency on how it was used.

“According to DMF rules, the funds collected were to be used for the benefit of mining-affected people but a major portion of this fund has been used in other areas of the district which have nothing to do with mining. It happened because the bodies that are tasked with use of this fund are headed by a legislator of that area,” Tripathi told Mongabay-India.

He said these bodies driving the use of DMF funds are led and controlled by politicians and district administration with zero participation of the locals who have no idea about this fund. “There is absolutely zero transparency and accountability. When we sensitise villagers about it we realise that no work has been done by the government to spread awareness about this fund among villagers,” Tripathi said.

He emphasises that the DMF implementation mechanism talked about provision of conducting a social audit of the works granted under it. “In Raigarh, about 950 projects were sanctioned and of that, about 450 have been completed but their social audit has not yet been conducted,” said Tripathi.

Chinmayi Shalya said, “Currently, most of the DMF use across mining districts in the country shows that the fund is used mostly for physical infrastructure for which other departmental funds are available.”

“This shows a lack of planning or even a basic need-assessment at the district level for optimal and effective use of DMF funds. There is a glaring lack of attention towards improving the well-being of mining-communities through better investments in healthcare, nutrition, availability of clean water and creating income security,” she said.

Shalya cited a recent example of Madhya Pradesh’s Singrauli district, one of the biggest and most polluted coal mining and thermal power hubs in the country, where a part of DMF funds was used for the construction of an air-strip.

“This is brazen misuse of a fund meant for communities which have been bearing the brunt of not only poor amenities and facilities, but also saddled for generations with effects of air, water and soil pollution,” she said.

However, there are some good examples as well that shows how the fund can be used constructively.

“For instance, Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts in Odisha have used DMF funds for local livelihoods through millets … they are using the produce to add millet-based foods in the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) scheme for better dietary diversity and nutrition. Bijapur and Dantewada districts in Chhattisgarh set up IPHS (Indian Public Health Standards) compliant hospitals with full staff and doctors through the DMFs,” she noted.

In fact, in August-September 2020, the central government proposed mining reforms that talked about the use of the DMF fund for creating tangible assets in mining-affected areas – something that experts criticised stating that this will be misused and the mining-affected communities will be deprived of this money.

Poor participation of mining-affected communities
One of the main reasons highlighted by experts in the proper use of the DMFs funds is that the money spent is being decided by bodies packed by bureaucrats with negligible participation of local communities.

Amarendra Das of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian government’s National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER), explained that the issues with DMF are multifaceted. “The money under the DMF was supposed to be used by the local bodies in villages and districts in accordance with their needs. But the process is hampered by bureaucracy, who instead of allowing the usage of funds in a decentralised manner, is pushing big projects on block and district level.”

“For example, rather than every village having their own drinking water system or local interventions that generate local employment and involve local decision making, the officials are calling for mega drinking water projects which get stuck on one level or another, decided without the involvement of villagers and devoid the locals of work and earning opportunities. Many times such projects get stuck and remain incomplete,” Das told Mongabay-India.

“There is a clear problem of mismanagement as a result of which, the mining-affected communities don’t get the benefit of the fund that was collected after taking away their resources,” he said.

DMF funds may not be reaching mining-affected communities
Of the Rs. 416 billion collected under the DMFs (till September 2020), about Rs. 177.66 billion have been spent. But experts note that the money is not being spent in conformity with the idea it was created for.

iForest’s Srestha Banerjee remarked that the “DMFs are operating with little knowledge of people who are the beneficiaries, even as data related to the funds under it etc was supposed to be shared with the public at large.”

“So far, most of the states and districts have failed to optimize the opportunity to address the injustice with the mining-affected communities. DMF is being treated as any other development or infrastructure fund while it is far beyond that. The spirit of DMF is natural resource benefit sharing. ” she said.

Chinmayi Shalya said for DMFs to function effectively, the decision making “needs to involve mining-affected people, the directly affected areas and affected people need to be clearly identified and notified.”

“A long-term planning exercise needs to be mandated so that funds are used wisely and no duplication with other schemes happens. Districts must be equipped with resources and expertise to plan effectively and improve upon and go beyond the existing public welfare schemes. Awareness and capacity of local communities should be built to partake in decisions and monitor the works under DMF,” she said.

She stressed that for the DMF mechanism to succeed, districts must focus on the delivery of services rather than a spree of creating only infrastructure, engage local partners for implementation. Livelihoods, with a focus on natural resources like forests, agriculture etc, as they will be key in improving local economy and incomes.

फंड मिलने के बाद भी नहीं खरीदे ट्रामा वैन:2 ट्रामा वेन की खरीदने के लिए स्वास्थ्य विभाग को डीएमएफ मद से मिल चुके हैं 45 लाख रुपए

Dainik Bhaskar | Jan 2021

स्वास्थ्य विभाग को जिले में ट्रामा वेन की खरीदी के लिए स्वीकृति के साथ-साथ राशि मिल जाने के बाद भी विभाग द्वारा 18 माह बाद भी ट्रामा वैन की खरीदी नहीं कर पाया है। ट्रामा वैन की खरीदी स्वास्थ्य के फाइलों में ही दबी हुई है। जबकि इस वैन की घोषणा मुख्यमंत्री द्वारा किया गया था।

जिले में मुख्यमंत्री के घोषणा को भी अधिकारी कर्मचारी नजर अंदाज कर देते हैं। जिसका खामियाजा जिले के लोगों को भुगतना पड़ता है। प्रदेश के मुख्यमंत्री भूपेश बघेल 5 फरवरी 2019 को पहली बार कुनकुरी पहुंचे थे। जहां उन्होंने एक सम्मेलन को संबोधित करने के दौरान जिले में दो ट्रामा वैन उपलब्ध कराने की घोषणा की थी।

मुख्यमंत्री की घोषणा को अमलीजामा पहनाने के लिए संसदीय सचिव यूडी मिंज ने जून 2019 में स्वास्थ्य मंत्री टीएस सिंह देव से मुलाकात कर बजट आबंटित करने का अनुरोध किया था। इस पर उन्होंने खनिज न्यास निधि से ट्रामा वैन खरीदी की अनुशंसा कलेक्टर से की थी। स्वास्थ्य मंत्री के इस अनुशंसा पर जिले के प्रभारी मंत्री अमरजीत भगत ने ट्रामा वैन के लिए डीएमएफ मद से खरीदी के लिए 45 लाख रुपए स्वीकृति दिया था।

पूर्व में ट्रामा सेंटर को लेकर हुई थी राजनीति

जिले में ट्रामा सेंटर की मांग सालों से की जाती रही है। भाजपा के दिग्गज नेता दिवंगत दिलीप सिंह जूदेव की पहल पर तात्कालीन मुख्यमंत्री डॉ.रमन सिंह जशपुर में ट्रामा सेंटर निर्माण करने की स्वीकृति दी थी। लेकिन अगस्त 2013 में उनके निधन के बाद तात्कालीन स्वास्थ्य मंत्री अजय चंद्राकर ने इस प्रस्तावित ट्रामा केन्द्र को राजनांदगांव स्थानांतरित कर दिया था। उनके इस निर्णय का जिले में विरोध हुआ था। शहरवासियों ने कैंडल मार्च निकाल कर इसका विरोध किया था। कांग्रेस और भाजपा के बीच जमकर राजनीतिक हुई थी।

वैन खरीदी प्रक्रिया में

ट्रामा वैन की खरीदी प्रक्रिया में हैं, प्रक्रिया पूरी होते ही जिले में ट्रामा वैन की खरीदी कर ली जाएगी।”

-डॉ.पी सुथार, सीएमएचओ, जशपुर

MLAs target admin on DMF projects

The Indian Express | Dec 28, 2020

All of the leaders are ex-officio members of DMF. The move comes after the administration did not respond to a letter written by Tete three-anda- half months back.

ROURKELA: Legislators of mineral rich areas of Sundargarh have accused the district administration of keeping them in dark on projects funded by District Mineral Foundation (DMF) and Odisha Mineral Bearing Area Development Corporation (OMBADC).

Five MLAs from opposition parties Kusum Tete of Sundargarh, Bhawani Bhoi of Talsara and Shankar Oram of Birmitrapur, all from BJP, Dr CS Rajen Ekka of Rajgangpur (Congress) and Laxman Munda of Bonai (CPM) have joined hands and decided to meet Sundargarh Collector and DMF chairman-cum-managing trustee Nikhil Pawan Kalyan over the issue.

All of the leaders are ex-officio members of DMF. The move comes after the administration did not respond to a letter written by Tete three-anda- half months back. Tete had urged the Collector to provide details of projects funded from DMF, OMBADC, 14th finance commission and other Central grants along with utilisation status from 2017-18 till date.

The letter, dated September 8, also sought details of upcoming projects for better monitoring. The legislator said four of her counterparts have expressed concerns over massive expenditure undertaken from DMF in a non-transparent manner. She said in October this year, the development of ‘Bijuli Bandh’ a water body of Sundargarh town, was undertaken at a cost of Rs 25.90 crore from DMF.

However, the MLA was not given information on the project components and procedures followed in awarding the contract for the project. Tete said there are several such instances of the district administration acting on its own will and it owes an explanation to the public. She said the Collector has agreed to meet the MLAs over the issue in a week.

Similar allegations were levelled by Bonal MLA Munda, who said he was not informed of the available funds under DMF and the total expenditure incurred on projects so far. Stating that a major piped water project was started without his knowledge, he said lack of transparency can result in wasteful expenditure, misuse of funds and sub-standard quality of work and corruption. The Assembly constituencies of Tete and Munda contribute a lion’s share of mining royalty from the district to the State exchequer of which 30 per cent goes to the DMF.

Dhanbad DC orders audit of utilisation of DMFT funds

The Indian Express | Dec 22, 2020

The order asks a committee to submit its report by December 26.

Dhanbad Deputy Commissioner Uma Shankar Singh has ordered an audit and an impact assessment of utilisation of funds from the District Mineral Foundation Trust (DMFT) for the financial years 2017-2020. A letter issued by Singh asked for the audit as DMFT funds were being used for “buying of water tankers (and) sweeping machines”.

The order asks a committee to submit its report by December 26.

A source in the Mines Department said water tankers and sweeping machines are “lying unused” and the manner of the utilisation of DMFT funds indicated “major corruption”.

As per the Mine and Minerals Development Regulation (Amendment) Act, 2015, in every district affected by mining-related operations, the state government shall, by notification, establish a trust as a non-profit body to be called the District Mineral Foundation.

Internal documents accessed by The Indian Express says that since the DMFT was formed in 2015, the total collection of the trust in Jharkhand was Rs 6189.4 crore as of November 2020, of which 2922.97 crore has been spent so far. They say that 66.79 per cent of this collection has been utilised in two districts alone — Dhanbad and Ramgarh.

In Jharkhand, the Drinking Water and Sanitation Department accounts for around 91 per cent of total DMFT amount spent.

According to the DMFT collections and utilisation data accessed by The Indian Express, 16,746 schemes or projects took shape under the drinking water category, which have around 32 lakh beneficiaries, with Rs 3,973 crore sanctioned under this category, of which Rs 2265.99 crore has been spent.

Under the sanitisation category, 17 projects have been initiated, which benefited 7.9 lakh people. An amount of Rs 480.20 crore was sanctioned, of which Rs 377.11 crore has been spent.

A PIL has also been filed in the High Court on the utilisation of DMFT funds on people affected by mining who do not have access to safe drinking water.

Collector Launched the Baseline Survey/Micro Plan of the Mining Affected People in Sundargarh, Odisha

Orissadiary.com | Dec 07, 2020

Sundargarh: Sundargarh, Collector Sundargarh Sri. Nikhil Pavan Kalyan has launched the Baseline Survey and Micro Planning Project for the six mining affected blocks of Sundargarh district, Odisha. The District Mineral Foundation (DMF) Sundargarh has been supporting this participatory micro plan and the baseline survey, which will be conducted in 185 villages in 29 Gram Panchayats in 6 blocks (Hamgir, Koida, Lahunipada, Rajgangpur, Kuarmunda and Kutra). Youth for Social Development (YSD) an expert organization on participatory planning, local governance and development has been designing the technical tools and implementing the survey and micro planning along with two other NGOs i.e. Sarda and Niyatee Foundation.

This is the first ever participatory micro planning and baseline survey in any DMF district in the country. More than 40,000 households affected in the mining areas will be surveyed through a mobile application and micro plan will be prepared with the participation of the people in the 185 villages. The micro plan prepared by the people will be presented in the gram sabha and approved by the people in the mining affected gram panchayats.

This is the bottom-up planning approach to understand the people’s needs and include such considerations in the DMF plan based on the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR), 1957, as amended in 2015, and the Odisha DMF Rules, 2015 (as amended in February 2016).

This intervention will help the gram panchayats to identify issues, needs of the people, prepare a micro plan by the people, for the people and of the people and those needs to be addressed, have been highlighted and capture the perception and need of mining-affected people in a comprehensive fashion. At the same time enable the PRI members and officials to conduct the people centered gram sabha and convergence between departments, by collecting relevant information and data from the ground and approval by the people.

In this occasion the team members of DMF-Sundargarh Sri Rasai Laguri, CEO of DMF, Sri Anil Kumar Kerketta, DIPRO Sundargarh, Sri. Sameer Kumar Patel, technical manager DMF, Mrs Munmun Dasmahapatra, Programme Manager, DMF and, team of Youth for Social Development and Mr. Bibhu Prasad Sahu, Secretary, Youth for Social Development, Sri Jeebant Kumar Project Coordinator and Sudeep Chakrabarty Coordinator and representatives of other two NGO partners were present.

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