Developing basic facilities not prioritised in DMF spend

Joda: The mining sector in Joda area of Keonjhar district contributes significantly to district mineral fund (DMF), but the fund has allegedly not come to use of developing basic facilities like road communication, safe drinking water, healthcare and education in mining-affected areas, a report said. 

In the absence of such basic facilities, tribal pockets reel under utter backwardness while people lead miserable lives, it was learnt.
Their sorry state is reflected from the fact that people drink contaminated water from pits, nullahs and streams at Jurudi, Jalhari, Bamebari, Khandabandh, Chamakpur, Deojhar and Birikala. People manage their sordid living by making leaf plates.

Crores of rupees of DMF as collected from several mining firms are supposed to be spent on development of areas affected by mining activities in Joda, but that is not happening. The fund is allegedly spent for different purposes. According to deputy director of Joda mining circle, Sushant Kumar Nayak, Rs 820 crore has been collected from 24 mine leaseholders till March end in 2016-17. “Money is deposited in the DMF account and it is being spent through the DMF Board,” he added.

But many quarters alleged that they have no idea about how much money is being spent for development of mining-affected areas in Joda.
Girish Mohanty, editor of Industries and Mining Observer, noted that whatever DMF is being collected should be utilised only for development of mining-hit areas. “Roads are in bad shape in mining areas. Road infrastructure can be upgraded and restored with DMF so as to facilitate mineral transport. A major part of the fund should be spent on developing basic facilities for people in Joda area,” he added.

Manas Das, a local leader, said, “Mining-hit areas can be developed with DMF, but not a single pie has been spent in these areas till date. People in Joda are upset with pollution caused by dust and fumes. Due to political intervention, DMF is spent on projects meant for political mileage rather than being spent in mining-affected areas. Even some amounts of the funds are apportioned for beautification of the town.”

Till date no step has been taken for irrigation facilities in Joda, he added. Huge swathes of farmland in Joda can benefit from irrigation if DMF is utilised for that purpose. Thousands of people, who have been left unemployed after closure of mines, can find avenues of earning from agriculture, Das suggested.

People of the mining affected areas are also suffering from lack of healthcare facility. There is need for more technical institutes for the young mass. Drinking water is a common problem in Joda where a large number of people in certain pockets are forced to drink water from contaminated water bodies. PNN

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