RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh government playing a nodal role in directing investment of District Mineral Fund resources is destroying the primary essence of the people-centric scheme, says a report released by Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi on Tuesday. The crucial assessment on DMF scheme done for the year 2018 says that there is no scope for representation of mining-affected communities in the district DMF bodies in Chhattisgarh and the body is dominated by district officials from mining areas. Report analysed 12 mining states and did in-depth assessment of five major mining states, including Chhattisgarh.
TOI accessed the report which reads, “The state government is playing a nodal role in directing investments and the state has amended its rules to include “public welfare” as a high priority area for investment. Currently, investments for Pradhan Mantri Ujjawala Yojna is being made in districts through this.”
Of the nine districts surveyed, three of them underwent in-depth analysis. DMF collection in Chhattisgarh is Rs 2,746 crore till April 2018 while collections in Korba district topped with Rs 674 crore followed by Dantewada Rs 216 crore and Raigarh Rs 122 crore, the report shows.
The role of the Gram Sabha, which has been clearly defined particularly for Scheduled V areas, has been completely sidelined. “However, there is little information available showing that Gram Sabha consultation has happened for approvals for works,” says Srestha Banerjee, programme manager, environmental governance unit, CSE.
In Korba, about 46 per cent investments are in urban areas even when 75 per cent of the district’s directly-affected villages are located in the rural parts. The urban investments range from construction of multi-level parking lots, convention halls and bus stops. “These are strictly urban development projects which have no bearing on the mining-affected areas to begin with,” said Srestha.
Similarly in Dantewada has invested 25 per cent of its total sanctions in Geedam, where the proportion of villages directly affected by mining is miniscule. Worst affected blocks like Kuwakonda have only 12 per cent of total investments so far. “These investments go against the fundamental principle of DMF, that funds must be used for those worst affected by mining-related operations,” Srestha added.
About Rs 3,133 crore has been sanctioned in Chhattisgarh for projects under DMF; about 28 per cent of this is for physical infrastructure and about 25 per cent for education. While education is an area of investment, the larger proportion of this has been on construction.
Physical infrastructure is evidently a big focus in all three districts. Raigarh, for instance, has directed 40 per cent of its Rs 123 crore investments towards construction of roads and bridges. Dantewada too has invested about 34 per cent of its Rs 380 crore budget for this.
Despite high malnutrition and under five mortality rate (U5MR) in all mining-affected areas, some of which are also tribal areas, all districts have largely overlooked issues of women and child development. Dantewada has invested only 1.6 per cent of its total funds on women and child development despite 45 per cent of its children under the age of five growing up stunted and more than 53 per cent being underweight.