Union Education Minister flays Odisha govt over misuse of DMF fund

The New Indian Express | Dec 30, 2022

Says there is no clarity or transparency in its utilisation in Angul

ANGUL: Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday attacked the state government over the ‘misuse’ of the district mineral foundation (DMF) fund in Angul. Speaking at a public meeting here, Pradhan criticised the way in which DMF collections were being spent in the Angul district without a tender process.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made provision of DMF funds for mining-affected areas which should be utilised on drinking water, healthcare services and other welfare activities. But in Angul, the fund is being misutilised. There is no clarity or transparency in its utilisation,” he alleged. Angul gets Rs 700-Rs 800 crore DMF funds per year.

On the occasion, Pradhan inaugurated the Angul-Balram rail line and flagged off the Sambalpur-Shalimar Express train in presence of Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and Parliamentary and Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi.

The union education minister also sought Joshi’s intervention in stopping the misappropriation of the DMF fund. Angul is not at the mercy of either the Centre or state government. Without the cooperation of the district, the state government would not be able to implement its 5T initiative. Hence, the livelihood and basic necessities of the people of Angul should be safeguarded, said Pradhan.

Claiming that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s government is spending money sanctioned by the Centre, he cited the example of the auction of coal mines. Pradhan ridiculed the CM’s announcement of a Rs 50,000 crore loan to Mission Shakti as the money would be provided by public sector banks.

Addressing the meeting, Union Coal Minister Joshi said there has been a huge increase in the inflow of central funds to Odisha. The state government has to utilise these funds in a proper way. Joshi informed that currently, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) is producing 168 million tonne (MT) of coal per year. This year’s target is 190 MT, but MCL has been asked to produce 200 MT of coal.

Vaishnaw said at least 46 world-class railway stations will be set up in Odisha with the cooperation of the state government. Besides, an economic corridor will come up in Angul with an investment of Rs 14,000 crore.

Earlier, Odisha was getting an allocation of Rs 800 crore in the railway budget. Now, the state is getting Rs 10,000 crore. Odisha can become a one trillion dollar economy if there is the willpower of the state government, availability of land and law and order, the union railway minister added.