Bhubaneswar, August 6 (LocalWire): The state government has spent only 30% of the District Mineral Funds (DMF) that it collects from the mining companies for the welfare and development of mineral-rich regions of Odisha.
Of the Rs 4,395 crore funds collected by the government during FY 2017-18 and 2018-19, the state managed to spend just Rs 1,320 crore, a report of the Odisha Planning and Coordination Department stated.
While the government collected Rs 1,800.36 crore during 2017-18, the DMF corpus jumped to Rs 2,595.59 crore in 2018-19.
However, the state spent just Rs 428.80 crore and Rs 892.04 crore, respectively during the two years, officials stated.
The DMF was set up in 2015 after the union government affected the amendment of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
The basic objective of DMF was to bolster the infrastructure of areas that bear the brunt of mining-induced pollution and other forms of disturbances.
According to the available data, while the mineral-rich Keonjhar district tops the DMF with a collection of Rs 2,019 crore during the last two years, authorities have so far been able to spend only Rs 454 crore from the coffer for the development of the region.
Reports indicate that the utilisation ratio of the collected funds stands abysmally low with little over 22% of funds being spent for the infrastructure and development projects during the period.
In FY 2018-19, the state government has so far collected Rs 1,353 crore from mining companies in Keonjhar district alone.
Similarly, while the collection from Jajpur district stands at Rs 575 crore, the state has so far spent only Rs 133 crore on various projects.
Also, as compared to Rs 894-crore collection under DMF in Sundargarh during the past two fiscals, the government has spent only Rs 285 crore in the region.
“The statistical utilisation ratio is on a lower side as funds are being spent almost on a daily basis in several ongoing projects.
The utilisation certificate to corroborate the expenditure is yet to be submitted as far as ongoing projects are concerned and we hope that the ratio will go up by the end of the current financial year,” Rural Development Agency project director Uddhab Majhi said.
He further informed that the government had already planned Rs 913-crore project for developing bustling belts of Joda and Barbil in Keonjhar district as model townships will be executed shortly.
The ongoing projects which are at various phases of implementation include an Rs 381-crore medical college and hospital, Rs 180 crore worth mega irrigation project that will irrigate agriculture land in 292 villages, and an Rs 700-crore project to provide drinking water to each of the households in the district, Majhi informed.
“The authorities have not paid due attention to the timely implementation of DMF.
The medical college and hospital construction are going on for the last three years.
While people are eagerly waiting for the hospital infrastructure to be ready, the project work is getting delayed due to improper supervision and monitoring,” Anandpur Biksh Parishad president Suresh Sahoo alleged.
The major mineral-bearing districts in Odisha include Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Jajpur, Angul, Jharsuguda, Koraput, Mayurbhanj and Rayagada.
DMF funds are earmarked for developing infrastructure, health and education sectors, urban development, provide piped water supply, pucca roads, skill development and facilities to create new job opportunities in the areas affected by mining operations.