Solan: No meeting, mining funds not aptly utilised

Solan: No meeting, mining funds not aptly utilised

2022-03-28 03:33:59

Tribune News Service

Ambika Sharma

Solan, March 27

The District Mineral Foundation Fund has not been utilised as the district administration has not convened its meeting for the past one year. The fund is to be utilised for development in areas affected by mining activities. A sum of Rs 89 crore is lying unutilised.

The users of major minerals, like cement plants, have to pay 30 per cent of the royalty to this fund. A major chunk of this fund is collected from cement plants located in Arki subdivision.

MLA Arki Sanjay Awasthy says, “It is lamentable that the district administration has not convened its meeting for the past one year, despite the mandate of holding at least one meeting annually. This lackadaisical approach reflects utter negligence towards development activities as even available funds have not been utilised”.

He alleges that the Arki belt has been severally hit due to mining activities but adequate funds have not been spared for mitigation activities. Funds are spent on other works, such as purchasing CCTV cameras and drones at a cost of Rs 39.58 lakh at Darlaghat, in violation of the mandate of the fund.

There is little monitoring of works undertaken through this fund or ensuing its time-bound completion and hence it has not been utilised optimally. The district administration had failed to provide the figures of works completed using this fund in the recent Vidhan Sabha session.

Two laptops worth Rs 1.89 lakh were purchased from this fund in March 2021. Works like whitewashing of school buildings, providing water coolers, printers, toilets, boundary walls in government schools even in non-mining areas like the Kasauli constituency have been undertaken using this fund. It seems the fund has been used to run the district as various departments such as Jal Shakti Vibhag, PWD, Education, Block Development Offices, police, health, etc., all have utilised it.

A Swarnim Vatika has also been developed at a cost of Rs 15 lakh at Shamlech in the Solan constituency using this fund. No such Vatika has been set up in the Darlaghat belt, which is severally hit by pollution.

A few works have been undertaken for the benefit of the mining affected people of the Arki Assembly segment. Such meetings have taken place in Sirmaur district where MPs and MLAs have been notified as its new members. The Central Government had in December last year directed the state government to include MPs and MLAs as its members.

Meeting next month

The next meeting of the District Mineral Foundation Fund will take place in April. It could not be convened in the current financial year as the Central Government had directed the state to change its composition. Kritika Kulhari, DC

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