Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said state governments will be urged to utilise funds collected under the District Mineral Fund (DMF) to carry out relief works for providing healthcare services to the poor in the wake of the coronavir crisis.
As many as 21 states have collected Rs 35,925 crore towards the district mineral fund from the sale of major and minor minerals, coal and lignite as of January this year since the establishment of DMFs over the last four and a half years.
These states have cumulatively spent a third of the funds collected so far. While the states have allocated Rs 30,652 crore for various works, funds amounting to Rs 12,414 crore has been spent as of January this year.
This means these states are left with Rs 23,511 crore that can be utilised for relief works such as medical screening, medical testing, and providing healthcare services in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The Karnataka government has so far collected Rs 1,842 crore under the DMF across all the 30 districts. The government had notified the DMF on January 11, 2016 for major minerals and on August 12, 2016 for minor minerals as per the provisions of the MMDR (Amendment) Act, 2015. The state government has so far spent Rs 320 crore on 579 projects.
“This is a novel idea to utilise the funds collected under DMF. This is the time, the mining industry must work together with the government to overcome the crisis situation due to Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry industry totally supports the government in this cause,” said Basant Poddar, a miner from Chitradurga and member of Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI).
He said the FIMI is planning to file an application before the Supreme Court to allow usage of funds collected by the special purpose vehicle in Karnataka for Covid relief works. The SPV has collected in excess of Rs 16,000 crore in Karnataka from mining companies.
The Karnataka government has identified several socio-economic development projects that include drinking water supply, environment prevention and pollution control measures, health care, education, welfare of women and children including on their nutrition, welfare of aged and disabled persons, skill development, sanitation, physical infrastructure, irrigation, energy & watershed development and measures for enhancing environment quality in mining districts.
Source: Deccan Herald