‘Faulty planning, staff crunch hit mining funds utilisation’

The Times of India | Feb 21, 2020

Bhubaneswar: Despite a huge collection of funds under the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) and the Odisha Mineral Bearing Area Development Corporation (OMBADC), the utilisation by the state government remains low.

Of the total collection of Rs 9,501.48 crore under the DMF by January-end, only Rs 2,794.19 crore has been spent. Similarly, about Rs 16,520 crore has been generated under the OMBADC of which only Rs 1,143 crore has been utilised. This was informed by state planning and convergence minister Padmanabha Behera in a written reply to a query from BJD MLA Soumya Ranjan Patnaik in the assembly on Thursday.

Both the DMF and OMBADC are meant for infrastructure development in areas where people are affected by mining activities. Drinking water supply, education, healthcare facilities, sanitation, skill development, housing, connectivity, livelihood programmes and environment conservation are some of the priority areas, where the government utilises money from the DMF and the OMBADC funds. The OMBADC was constituted in 2014 with contribution from mining lessees with the amount they paid for diversion of forest land (Rs 7 to 9 lakh per hectare) for mining purpose. The penalties collected from the lessees for illegal mining based on a Supreme Court order delivered on August 2, 2017, is also deposited in the OMBADC fund.

A committee headed by the chief secretary has already sanctioned projects worth Rs 9,084 crore from the DMF fund for various areas. There has been delay in implementation of projects for reasons like lack of adequate professionals at sub-ordinate offices and lack of planning to utilise the amount, said a senior government official, requesting anonymity.

While all the districts have DMF fund, resources from the OMBADC are being utilised only in eight mining-hit districts — Angul, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Keonjhar, Koraput, Mayurbhanj and Sundargarh.