Bhubaneswar, Dec 8: A New Delhi based think tank that works for environment-development issues in the Country has organised a forum in the Capital Thursday that discussed about the betterment of people living in mineral rich districts of Orissa with the funds provided by the mining companies.
The discussion – attended by renowned environmentalists, social activists and NGOs working in related fields – was organised by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which talked about the proper usage of funds that were released under District Mineral Foundations (DMFs).
Those entitled to the benefits are communities living in areas affected by mining activities, who have legal or occupational rights over the land.
DMFs are statutory bodies, instituted under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2005, established in the districts affected by mining activities. The meeting — chaired by the deputy director Chandra Bhushan and Sreshtha Banerjee, the programme manager, Environmental Governance, CSE — discussed in great detail the faults in DMFs.
The duo claimed that people living in such areas were denied of their rights and benefits, which they were very much entitled to. “They (DMFs) are strictly meant to serve the communities in the mining affected areas,” said the deputy director.
This year Orissa has clinched the top figure in the funds collection under the DMFs.
The bodies’ work is to identify the affected areas and the people living there. A DMF should constitute board of trustees and executive committee, headed by the district collector, local representatives to the Assembly and Parliament, and members of Zilla Parishad and Zilla Panchayat.
However, DMFs in the state were not using the funds the way they should for the welfare of the affected, the officials from the think tank stated.
Banerjee said, “As per the rule, all the information related to schemes under DMFs should be made public and must be published in a website.” The affected can also file grievances and complaints with the local gram sabha and the court, she added.
Banerjee stated that DMFs in Telengana and Jharkhand were working well and Orissa should implement the scheme in a proper manner to benefit the needy.
Chandra Bhushan said that his organisation was in talks with the State and had even intimated the matter to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister asking them to take quick action on the matter.
He informed at the event that the state mining department has collected Rs1600 crore under DMFs this year to be used for the welfare projects.