Fighting COVID-19: Why Naveen Patnaik Silent on near about Rs 9000 Crore DMF Money?

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By Anurjay Dhal

RAJKANIKA/KENDRAPARA: With Odisha till now deposited around Rs 9000 crore in District Mineral Funds(DMF) while the figure at National level reaching at Rs 40,000 crore but it was surprising as to why Odisha Government not using it and instead seeking Corporate help and also asking Party MLAs and MPs to flood funds from MLALADs and MPLADs.

As per the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015, lease holders are to make between 10-30% of the royalty as statutory contributions towards DMF. The Act empowers States to prescribe benefits to project-affected persons. The compositions and functions of the DMF are also decided by the States. As per the amended Act, 60% of the proceed is to be utilised in priority areas and the remaining on ‘other priority areas’.

“Odisha, the first State to formulate the DMF rules, had accumulated Rs 8,257 crore under DMF and had approved Rs 7,065 crore. Total utilisation, however, was only Rs 1,134 crore till November 2019,”  a report said.

There could be some changes in the categorisation of priority and other priority areas. At present, irrigation has been categorised in the ‘other priority areas’. Irrigation and healthcare could come under ‘high priority areas’. The division of 60:40 ratio for high priority and other priority areas could also be tweaked. State may be allowed to change the ratio to address the priority.

Even as the district mineral foundations (DMF) in the state have flushed with funds worth Rs 8,729 crore by October, the spending remains only at 26 per cent. State Planning and Coordination Minister Padmanabha Behera had in November 2019,said Rs 2,281.74 crore has been spent for various development projects from the DMF fund, sources added.

“It was a calculated move of the State Government and fooling people during crisis,” a sources said questioning MLALADs and MPLADs used for COVID-19.

“Since DMF money of near about Rs 9000 crore is there , there was no need of delay in implementing it in Odisha as near about Rs 9000 crore are there and it shall be used for fighting COVID-19,” a source said.

It may be noted here that Odisha was among the State, which had demanded IT exemption for DMF.  

In the recently concluded Mining auction, Odisha earned around Rs 4.87 Lakh Crore from the 23 out of 24 mines auctioned.  These 23 Mines holds Iron Ore  1716.92 mt, Manganese 8.77 mt  and Chrome Ore having 104.96 mt, which was worth Rs.4,87,082.55 Crore.

Chief Minister Patnaik himself donated his MLALAD funds while Party MP Dr Sasmit Patra, MLA Pranab Prakash Das, Minister Pratap Jena and several others have already donated from their LAD funds while for COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent health services, several leading corporate houses in Odisha , has started donating to CMRF.

State PSU Odisha Mining Corporation donated    Rs 500 crores to Chief Minister Relief Fund.OMC has also decided to give Rs 250 crore interim dividend for Year 2019-20.This is apart from the above contribution OMC has already contributed Rs.100 crore to CMRF in February 2020.MGM Minerals of MGM Group has also donated Rs 1 crore while State owned OTDC donated 5 lakhs.

Congress leader Naveen Jindal led Jindal Steel and Power Ltd and his Philanthropist wife Shallu Jindal , who is also Chairperson of JSPL Foundation, the CSR arms of JSPL Group has joined hands with Naveen Patnaik led Government in the State to fight back COVID-19 outbreak.

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