JAIPUR: The coronavirus pandemic has caused a global economic slowdown. As a result of this, governments around the world, including the Government of India, are struggling to reallocate funds for containment and treatment of Covid-19. To mitigate this, Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance, Government of India, recently announced that state governments in India can use District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds for medical testing, screening and providing of health services.
The DMF was set up in 2016 in order to help people residing in areas where heavy mining activities were underway. Rajasthan has the fourth largest DMF fund in the country at Rs 3514 crore. The government has also set up strict norms for the state governments to use the funds, which instruct that the fund can only be used to address problems related to pollution, environment degradation and development in mining areas. Due to such strict demarcations around the scope of use of the funds, a majority of projects proposed by the state government under the DMF funds get cancelled because of improper planning and absence of manpower.
However, with the decision of the central government to allow state governments to use the DMF fund for relief during the coronavirus pandemic, the Government of Rajasthan finally has the opportunity to announce initiatives to help those who are most affected by the lockdown, particularly the poor and the daily wage workers. The government has already announced relief to below poverty line (BPL) families.