CSE releases the crucial 2018 assessment of the DMF scheme.
Rajasthanone of the top five mining states assessed closely
New Delhi, July 31, 2018: Likethe other mining states, Rajasthan too seems to have its priorities wrong when it comes to allocation of DMF funds. Building of infrastructure takes the lion’s share. The Rs 2.8 crore allocation to health is too miniscule to make any real difference to the issue of inadequate access to healthcare in the district. In Bhilwara, about 75 percent of the district’s villages do not have a primary health centre within the stipulated five kilometer radius. To add to this, the district has a high prevalence of chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, given the widespread mining activity -- this is one of the findings of a report by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released here today.
People First: District Mineral Foundation (DMF) Status Report, 2018 – as the report is called -- is an assessment of 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 top five states, including Rajasthan. 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 Rajasthan is 1,782 crore till April 2018. The topmost districts in the state in terms of DMF collection are Bhilwara (Rs 290 crore), Rajsamand (Rs 250 crore), Chittorgarh (Rs 140 crore) and Udaipur (Rs 95 crore).
“DMF is a defining opportunity to overturn the decades of injustice meted out to the 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 Rajasthan has failed to implement DMF in the right spirit,” says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE.
People excluded from planning and decision-making
The DMF body is dominated by district officials and political representatives from mining areas. There is some representation of communities from mining-affected areas and mine workers, but this constitutes a very small proportion of the members, and is mostly chosen by the district administration.
No district has developed a comprehensive DMF plan to ensure need-based investments in mining-affected areas. The work sanctions are adhoc. None of the districts have identified DMF beneficiaries and have also left out Gram Sabhas from the process of decision-making.
“The Gram Sabha has been completely marginalized in DMF implementation in Rajasthan. 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 and those with traditional rights on the land that is being mined –from the benefits of DMF,” said Bhushan.
No dedicated office, poor availability of information
CSE’s assessments reveal that no district has set up a dedicated DMF office for planning investments for DMF funds. “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 is a must to ensure that DMFs benefits reach the intended beneficiaries,”said Srestha Banerjee, programmemanager, environmental governance unit, CSE.
Though Rajasthan has recently set up an online portal for DMF, the information available in the public domain is scanty. There is no information available so far on mining-affected areas, beneficiaries, notifications on DMF, work sanctions and progress, minutes of meetings, annual reports etc. The state Rules and the Centre’s flagship scheme –the Pradhan MantriKhanijKheshtraKalyanYojana (PMKKKY) -- aligned to DMFs, mandate that all details on DMF be provided in the public domain.
Construction is the mainstay of investments, no focus on developing soft resources
Overall, Rs 1,062crore has been sanctioned so far for projects under DMF. More than 33 per cent of this sanction is for physical infrastructure and about 32 per cent for education.
Construction is the biggest focus on investments across sectors. In Bhilwara, of the Rs 226 crore sanctioned, about 50 per cent is towards physical infrastructure. This stands in contravention to the state Rules as well as the PMKKKY which states that not more than 40 per cent of the total investments should be for “other priority areas” which includes physical infrastructure.
The education allocation is primarily for provision of furniture in schools. “The investments show that no planning has been undertaken, the fund is being used for blanket investments without assessing other needs of the area,” said Srestha. “Also, there is no focus on developing soft resources like having adequate teaching staff to ensure better learning outcomes,” she added.
Missing the crucial issues
Even as state DMF Rules ask for inclusion of silicosis patients as beneficiaries of DMF, no investments are so far reflected in this direction.
Lack of participatory planning and gap-analysis is reflected in some of the other crucial issues being left out of the scope of DMFs, finds the CSE report. A district with a rural under-five mortality rate (U5MR) of 85 and about 45 per cent children in the same age group being underweight, has not sanctioned any funds for women and child development to improve nutritional indicators.
“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.