Chhattisgarh government has recently made necessary amendment to include 10 members from a Gram Sabha in a mining-affected area in the DMF Governing Council. For Scheduled Areas, at least 50 per cent of the Gram Sabha members will be from Scheduled Tribes (ST) category. Women will also participate in the panel.
DMF is a non-profit trust set up following the amendment of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 to “work for the interest and benefit of persons, and areas affected by mining". It however did not specify people’s greater participation in the decision-making body funded by miners. Earlier, only two Sarpanches from directly-affected areas were included in the Governing Council.
Mineral-rich Chhattisgarh has been getting approximately Rs 4,000 crore in the DMF kitty. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel observed that the DMF was not working optimally in the interest of people affected by mining projects. Many projects that were not entitled to be carried out with DMF funds were nevertheless executed. These included social welfare schemes, roads and rail projects.
The Chhattisgarh government first abolished the DMF trust, which had a two-tier administrative structure consisting of a Governing Council (GC) and a Managing Committee (MC). Both the GC and the MC predominantly had officials and elected representatives who were headed by the District Collector. There was practically no representation of mining-affected people in the body.
The state government has restructured the body and appointed the minister of the respective district to head the body. Besides, affected people will also have a say in the decisions.
“This is an extremely significant step in empowering the common mining-affected people,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).