In a bid to unlock resources for the most needy amid the coronavirus
(Covid-19) crisis, Delhi-based NGO Public Response Against Helplessness and Action for Redressal (PRAHAR) has urged the government to actively use unutilized District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds and accelerate relief efforts towards the protection of lives and livelihoods of Covid-19 affected communities across states.
This is part of the NGO’s ‘National Movement for Livelihood Resurrection and Self Employment’ in the wake of Covid-19 crisis launched recently.
According to the Ministry of Mines website, a sum of Rs 35,925 crorehas been collected in DMF funds
as on January 31, 2020, out of which only 35 per cent has been utilised, leaving behind Rs 23,510 crore which are lying unused.
On March 26, 2020, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman urged that DMF funds
be used to supplement and augment healthcare facilities, screening and testing requirements and for any other resources that might be required by the state governments.
However, after three weeks only negligible progress has been made with few districts making some discretionary use of these funds, said PRAHAR in its release on Sunday.
This is because of a lack of clarity on the modalities of use of these funds for the purpose of saving lives and resurrecting livelihoods in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, explained PRAHAR.
Goa, which heavily relies on tourism and mining, collected Rs 188.65 crore in DMF Fund and Rs 399 crore in Goa
Iron Ore Permanent Fund till March 2018 when mining was operational. Out of this only 2 per cent or Rs 4 crore of DMF fund has been used for the welfare of people.
At a time when the state is facing its worst crisis, this corpus can act as a bail-out package.
According to the Minerals Act, 40 per cent of the DMF fund can be used for ‘other priority areas’, whereas 60 per ent should be reserved for the ‘priority areas’. This indicates that while
60 per cent of the fund can be kept for communities directly working in mining activities, the remaining can be used for the well-being of the state. DMF corpus is particularly attractive here.
Among the mineral-bearing states, Odisha has collected the highest amount as DMF at Rs 9,502 crore followed by Jharkhand Rs 5,181 crore and Chhattisgarh with Rs 4,981 crore till January, 2020.