Goa: Over 186 crore in District Mineral Foundation fund, but just 1 crore spent

The Times of India | Nov 11, 2019

PANAJI: Despite the Goa District Mineral Foundation being flush with funds worth Rs 186 crore, the state government has spent just over Rs 1 crore on water supply project in the mining belt.

Each of the state’s two districts have over Rs 90 crore in their accounts, but they are still unable to fund serious social and development projects that would benefit people living in mining-affected villages, Goa Foundation director Claude Alvares, said.

“If one goes by the information available on the website of the directorate of mines and geology, the fund could support afforestation, provision of drinking water, education, healthcare, housing, infrastructure, irrigation, sanitation, skill development and sports. However, the only activity that has been taken is that of providing drinking water,” Alvares said.

Interestingly, the focus on drinking water provision, too, was solely due to the PIL filed by the Goa Foundation on behalf of the villagers of Sonshi. Later, it had also made an application on behalf of mining-affected villagers in Pissurlem.

During April and May, the foundation had contacted sarpanchas of several villages in mining-affected areas, seeking to know their water situation and whether government intervention was needed since mining leaseholders had stopped supplies.

“The DMF’s water supply project amounted to just over Rs 1 crore. However, there has been zero spending under all other activities and proposals from mining-affected communities are pending consideration,” Alvares said

Meanwhile, mines director Ashutosh Apte has said that two committees have already been constituted to spend the funds regular meet to finalise the activities that need to be taken up on priority. “We have asked the district collectors to submit a priority list by which work should be undertaken,” Apte said

Chief minister Pramod Sawant, who holds the mining portfolio, had said the fund would be spent to start income-generating activities in the mining belt.