Raipur: The state of Chhattisgarh holds a special place in Indian in terms of mineral resources. The government is ensuring participation of mining lease holders for the interests and welfare of the people living in the area affected by mining operations. For this, the provision of the formation of the District Mineral Trust in the Mineral Act was made in the previous government. However, many shortcomings were being felt in this provision by the experts as the participation of public representatives was not being ensured. Moreover, the participation of local people was also minimal. Apart from this, proper utilization of funds was not being done for the welfare of the directly affected people. In simple words, those in need were not getting benefitted from the allotted funds. Several other similar shortcomings were also observed in the preceding provisions.
In order to overcome these shortcomings, and to provide proper benefits to the affected local people in the fields of health, education, environment and sanitation, the state government has made several important reforms in the old provision to provide benefits directly to the affected people.
The Chhattisgarh government has utilized the DMF fund significantly for development in the state. All sector including education, health, infrastructure development, electricity, water, sanitation, etc have been developed with the help of DMF fund in all districts of Chhattisgarh. The fund is also used in building Atmanand Government English-medium Schools in various districts of state. The cases of malnutrition have also reached all time low throughout the state with the help of DMF. Moreover, it has been used in improving the health infrastructure and providing relief to the people during Corona crisis. The changes can be felt in almost all the districts of state.
The primary steps taken by the government is to ensure representation of public representatives in the trust. For which, the minister in charge of the district has been appointed as ex-officio chairman of the governing council. Along with this, all the MLAs of the district have been appointed as its ex-officio members. Previously, according to the old provision, the Collector of the district used to be the chairman of the Governing Council.
The other significant change in the provision made by the Bhupesh-led government is the increased participation of local residents of the affected area. It is worth mentioning that in the previous provision, only those affected by mining were specially not given enough space in the Council. As per the amendment, the state government has decided to make provision for the appointment of at least 10 members of the Gram Sabha, residents of the directly affected area.
The state government further makes necessary changes in the preceding provisions. As per the amendments, 50 per cent of the amount received in the Trust will be used for the welfare of the directly affected area/persons.This has resulted in economic and social development of the residents. It is to be noted that in the previous provision, the entire district was considered affected and the amount was spent at will and only a part of the profit reached the needy.
As per the amended provisions, beneficiaries benefiting from the trust fund will be identified in order to prepare a five-year vision document as per the requirement of the affected area/residents, for an overall development of these areas. This work has already started in the Dantewada, Korba and Bastar districts. New sectors have been included in the works edited by the Trust Fund for sustainable livelihood, public transport, preserving cultural values and promoting youth activities. It is being implemented in Dantewada, Jashpur, Surguja and Kanker districts. Many important efforts are being made in the field of drinking water, health and education. Under the leadership of Bupesh-led government, the trust funds are being fully utilized in the state.Solar energy-based project in drinking water, health care facilities in government hospitals under health care, providing educational fees/hostel fees in government institutions for higher education to family members of directly affected areas in education as well as all competitive examinations. Provision has been made for coaching and residential training. Sankalp coaching in Jashpur district is an excellent example of this.
Apart from this, storage and processing units of agricultural products are being encouraged along with food processing, minor forest produce and forest processing. Additionally, organic farming is also being promoted and employment opportunities are being provided to women. Through this manure is being prepared for agriculture. Cleanliness of drains and intensive plantation works are being encouraged.Whereas previously, the description of only agricultural machinery/non-standard seeds were of prime focus. Now in infrastructure related works, only 20 percent amount is being used in sectors other than drinking water, health and education.
Monitoring of tasks amended by the trust is necessary. Hence, it has been decided to hold a meeting of the state level monitoring committee once a year. A provision has been made to set up a state level District Mineral Trust Cell to monitor the works of the trust.
The state government has issued instructions to spend the amount from DMF in this work to solve the problem of health, malnutrition in the affected areas and to make employment to agriculture works, the results are very encouraging. In Dantewada district, malnutrition has decreased by four per cent over the previous year. Similarly, 50 thousand patients have been treated free of cost in Dantewada at Haat Bazar Clinic since June 2019.
Human resources and medical supplies were absolutely required for the operation of Maharani Hospital, the largest government hospital in Bastar division. It was supplied from the DMF by the district administration there. Today, thousands of patients are receiving their treatment in this hospital. The district administration in Dantewada is preserving cultural values through Dantewada district DMF item. Under this, work is being done to preserve the priceless culture and heritage of the tribals by rejuvenating Devgudi in 143 gram panchayats of the district and developing it into a tourist center. This initiative is proving effective in further strengthening the tribal culture and values.
The DMF is helping to free Mungeli district from malnutrition. Under this, in 20 gram panchayat’s 81 Anganwadi centers, malnourished children aged six months to three years and all children coming to Anganwadi, aged three to six years, for extra nutrition in addition to nutritious food, egg and bananas.
An amount of Rs 21, 67,200 has been approved for all these children under the DMF. About 2400 children of the district are being benefited from this scheme.
Under the leadership of Chief Minister Mr. Bhupesh Baghel major success has been achieved in making District Mineral Trust Fund a medium for overall economic and social development of the mining-affected areas of the mineral-rich state and bringing positive change in people’s living standards. On the initiative of the Chief Minister, new priorities have been fixed by amending the Chhattisgarh District Mineral Fund Trust rules and ensuring the participation of Gram Sabhas, local public representatives, Scheduled Tribes and women in the formulation and implementation of the development plan for mining affected areas.
According to the new amendment, the amount of DMF is being used in training, employment, upgrading of life, nutrition, etc.public utility works to develop means of education, health and livelihood in mining affected areas. Through this fund, the provision of teachers in schools, expansion of health facilities, drinking water, agricultural development, irrigation, food processing, environmental protection, pollution control, expansion of public transport facilities, sports, and other youth activities, aged and disabled welfare, culture protection along with other infrastructure development works are being done. The new government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Mr. Bhupesh Baghel, has set a new priority for the use of the amount of District Mineral Fund.
On March 9, 2019, Chief Minister Mr. Baghel said in a discussion on the effective implementation of DMF that the use of the amount of DMF should be done on a priority basis for the development of mine-affected areas and improving the standard of living of the affected people with developing means of livelihood. Earlier large buildings and additional rooms were built with this amount. Lifts were installed at the swimming pool and district office. While the amount of this fund should have been used for the development of mining-affected areas.
According to the amendment made in the Chhattisgarh District Mineral FoundationTrust rules at the initiative of Chief Minister Mr. Bhupesh Baghel, now in-charge Minister is the head and Regional MLA is a member in Governing Council of DMF. Provision has also been made in the Governing Council to appoint at least 10 members of the Gram Sabha in the areas directly affected by mining operations. In Scheduled Areas, 50 percent of the members of Gram Sabha will be from Scheduled Tribes. With a view to empower women, provision has been made that 50 percent of Gram Sabha members will be women. According to the new rules, 50 percent of the amount received from the District Mineral Trust Fund will be used in the directly affected areas. A social audit of the amount of DMF amount will be conducted.
By using the amount of DMF, sustainable means of livelihood will be developed for the affected people in mining-affected areas. Chhattisgarh is the first state in the country, where high priority has been given to develop forest produce based livelihoods. Provision has also been made to constitute a state-level DMF cell for monitoring the functions of DMF. According to the new provisions, a maximum of 20 percent of the DMF amount can be used in the development of infrastructure in high priority areas. An average amount of Rs 1200 crore is deposited in the DMF every year.
Many important works are being done in different districts of the state using the amount of DMF. Atmanand government English medium school building, hospital building, medical facility extension, Anganwadi center building have been constructed in many districts. Super specialty hospital has been built in Bijapur district. Specialist doctors have been appointed. In Dantewada district, e-rickshaws have been provided to women with this fund for livelihood, assistance has been given for activities like mini-rice mill fisheries of women groups. In Haaram village of Geedam development block of Dantewada district, a garment factory has been established with DMF fund to provide a livelihood to women. There are also plans to set up similar garment factories in Dantewada, Barsur, and Bacheli, which will provide employment to about one thousand women.
After the amendment of the rules, various steps for public welfare are being taken with the use DMF funds such as, expansion of health facilities in government hospitals of the mining-affected area and getting the services of doctors, nurses. Arrangements are being made for nursing, medical education, engineering, law, management, higher education, vocational courses, technical education, payment of educational fees and hostel fees in government institutions, colleges and universities, as well as coaching and residential training of competitive examinations for the children of families living here with DMF fund.
There are various such examples in the state that strongly establishes that the amount of DMF is being used better in the Bhupesh-led government now than before. Along with this, its benefits are reaching the people directly affected by the affected areas.