Jharkhand has given no money under DMF to Jharia, the most affected mining area in the state
CSE releases crucial assessment of the DMF scheme.
Jharkhand one of the top five mining states assessed closely
New Delhi, July 31, 2018:In October 2016, the Jharkhand government directed all districts to use their DMF investments for developing piped-water schemes and construction of toilets to meet the ODF targets. All investments since have focussed only on these two issues. And there are question marks over many of the piped water projects. Says the assessment report released here today by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE): “No planning process has been followed by the districts in the state to assess any other pressing needs of their mining-affected people and areas.”
People First: District Mineral Foundation (DMF) Status Report, 2018 – as the report is called -- is an assessmentof DMF as it enters its fourth year. The report covers 12 states in the country, and closely studies the investments in 13 districts in the topfive states, including Jharkhand. The report was released in the presence of representatives from the state and Central governments, district administrations from mining-affected districts, NGOs and media.
“DMF is a people-centric vision of natural resource governance where their right to benefit has been put at the forefront. If developed and implemented well, DMFs not only have huge potential for improving the lives and livelihoods of some of the poorest communities, they can also be a model for inclusive governance,” said SunitaNarain, director general, CSE, while releasing the report.
DMFs have been instituted to be established as a non-profit Trust in every mining district of the country under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation), Amendment Act, 2015. They have a precise and legally defined objective to work for the interest and benefit of persons and areas affected by mining-related operations.
The DMF collection in Jharkhand is Rs 2,696 crore till March 2018. The top six districts in Jharkhand in terms of DMF collection are Dhanbad (Rs 715 crore), West Singhbhum (Rs 424 crore), Chatra (Rs 425.8 crore), Ramgarh (Rs 414 crore),Bokaro (Rs 265 crore) and Godda (Rs 200 crore).
“DMF is a defining opportunity to overturn decades of injustice meted out to millions of people living in deep poverty and deprivation in India’s mining districts. But DMF can only deliver if it is implemented in the letter and spirit of the DMF Rules under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation), Amendment Act, 2015. Our assessment shows that so far, Jharkhand has failed to implement DMF in the right spirit,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
People excluded from DMF planning and implementation
CSE’s assessment shows that the administration of DMF in Jharkhand is top-down and has poor representation of mining-affected people. The DMF investment priorities have been determined by the state government.
“DMF Rules in Jharkhand categorically specify a bottom-up planning approach to be followed to address the needs of the mining-affected people. Not including people in decision-making violates the Rules,” said Bhushan. The state DMF Rules mandate consultation with the Gram Sabha for identifying the works to be undertaken. However, the state mandate has left no scope of Gram Sabha consultation.
“The Gram Sabha has also been completely marginalized in allaspects of DMF implementation in Jharkhand. For instance, the identification of beneficiaries for the DMF has not been done so far. The Gram Sabha has a clear role in the identification. This has left out some of the worst-affected people – those displaced due to mining operations or with traditional rights on the land that is being mined – from the benefits of DMF,”adds Bhushan
No planning and coordination office, no information in public domain
The report also finds that DMFs in the state have been functioning without a planning and co-ordination office. Only Ramgarh and Hazaribagh districts have set up project management units (PMUs) for monitoring project implementation. “PMUs are no substitutes for a full-time DMF office comprising planning experts who can do a gap-analysis, conduct consultations with the Gram Sabha and plan DMF investments based on the district’s resources,” says Srestha Banerjee, programmemanager, environmental governance unit, CSE.
There is very little information on DMF in the public domain. Only Ramgarh and West Singhbhum have developed district-specific websites, but they too have very little information. The DMFRules of Jharkhand and the Centre’s flagship scheme -- Pradhan MantriKhanijKheshtraKalyanYojana (PMKKKY) -- mandate that all details on DMF be provided in the public domain.
Sustainability of investments questionable
Overall, Rs 1,744 crore has been sanctioned from DMF in the state for projects in various districts. Of this, Rs 1,433 crore (82 per cent of total sanctions) is for drinking water supply projects. About 15.7 per cent of the total state sanctions are for sanitation.
CSE analysed the investment patterns in four key districts of Jharkhand – Dhanbad, Ramgarh, Bokaro and West Singhbhum. Water supply projects dominate the investments. For instance, Dhanbad has sanctioned Rs. 860 crorefor rural multi-village piped water supply schemes. Ramgarh has sanctioned more than Rs200crore worth projects for piped water schemes. While drinking water is a critical concern in all mining districts, the viability of these drinking water investments is questionable, says the CSE analysis.
In Jharkhand, mostwater supply schemes under DMFrelies on the Damodarriver or its tributaries. The investments barely take into consideration the source sustainability issue. “There is a big question mark on the feasibility of these projects. While the consultant preparing a detailed project report (DPR) for a water supply project in Dhanbad gave a clean chit to the river as a sustainable source, in Ramgarh, another consultant clearly expressed concerns on water availability,” said Srestha.
The DPRs as analyzed by CSE researchers show that the quality of water in Damodar river was not due importance. For instance, the projects does not account for the estimated cost of treatment of toxic heavy metals found Damodar river.
Missing crucial areas and issues
The straitjacket approach towards DMF investments, coupled with the absence of planning and involvement of people, has led to extremely crucial areas and issues being missed out from the scope of DMF investments.
The most alarming miss is Jharia, the biggest coal mining-affected area in Dhanbad district, which has been completely left out. The area is infamous for the deplorable living conditions of its inhabitants with no livelihood opportunities but to pick coal, sustained exposure to burning coal, poor access to healthcare and lack of clean drinking water. “People of Jharia and those rehabilitated from there to resettlement colonies are among the worst-affected by mining and should have been one of the biggest focus of DMF in Dhanbad,” says Srestha.
Many pressing issues in the mining-affected areas of the districts have also been left out due to narrow focus of investments. For instance, West Singhbhum, a district with an under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) of 96, one of the highest in the country, and very high malnutrition rates (with 63 per cent children in the same agegroup growing up stunted), has failed to address child health and nutrition despite a sizeable DMF corpus. “If proper planning was done, child nutrition would have been one of the top priorities not only in West Singhbhum, but in many other districts too,” said Srestha.
“As we enter the fourth year of DMF implementation, it is time we sorted out the planning and implementation issues. Without bottom-up planning and proper institutional structure, DMF will not be able to deliver. We need the involvement of the beneficiaries in planning and monitoring, to make DMF transparent and accountable. Let this be the agenda for the coming year,” summarisedBhushan.