95256No records of Rs20,000 cr. spent from (Cong, BJP) MP LADS in public domain
- Apr 17 2:30 AM
No records of Rs20,000 crore spent from MP LADS in public domain
Over Rs20,000 crore from the MP LADS were disbursed since a decade, but there are no records. The funds allotted for MPs to use for providing drinking water, public health, education, sanitation, sports and roads are either unused or misused
The Member of Parliament (MP) Local Area Development Scheme (LADS) funds, which were instituted in 1993 at Rs50 lakh per year have grown to Rs5 crore per year in 2011. However, the usage of MPLADS funds from all MPs of Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha, remain in controversy, thanks to the opaqueness in their expenditure.
As per the Annual report for 2010-2011 by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, which disburses these funds, at least 45% to 60% of MPLADS funds in most of the states have been spent on roads. Looks like most of our Parliamentarians, believe that creating roads means development!
As per the guidelines of MP LAD funds, preference of works under this scheme is to be given to works relating to national priorities such as provision of drinking water, public health, education, sanitation, sports and roads. However, as per the Annual Report findings, in most of the States, only 1% to 7% money has been spent on public sanitation, drinking water, electricity, health and family welfare. Except for Odisha, Kerala, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Tripura, which have spent between 20% to 50% money for education, other progressive states have not spent beyond 3%-7%. Lakshadweep has been an exception, spending 100% of the funds on education. Sports too is very low on the priority list of most states that have spent not more than 3% of the funds except for North-East states like Manipur and Mizoram who spent more than 20% of it.
The committees findings in the Annual Report also observe that in 13 states/ union territories (UTs), Rs1.30 crore was used for not admissible items like payment of honorarium/ wages/ travelling, expenses of staff, fuel for official vehicles and purchase of laptops. It also observed that no proper records were maintained; eight States executed 700 works costing Rs9.45 crore without formal recommendations of the MPs; 150 works worth to Rs2.44 crore were recommended by the representatives of the MPs. Nearly Rs15 crore were disbursed to private trusts/ societies beyond the permissible limit of Rs25 lakh per trust and 145 illegal trusts were given around Rs6 crore from the MP LAD funds. Works worth Rs20 crore for which the district collectorates had already released money during 2004-2009, are yet to commence.
Besides the Annual Report, the website www.mplads.nic.in is not abiding comprehensively by the Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The website gives details of disbursed funds of MPs but not the detailed proposals, progress of works and completion of works that has been made mandatory. All citizens have the right to get information on the detailed plan, progress and implementation of the MP funds and this has to be mandatorily put up on the respective websites. However, this is not done. A plaque has to be permanently put at the work site with the name of the MP and that it is done from the MP LAD fund, but you hardly see such plaques.
As per the directives of the government, the following norms of transparency under the RTI Act must be followed by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation and all the district authorities which implement the works. They are:
As per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 and the rules framed there under, all citizens have the right to information on any aspect of the MPLAD Scheme including works recommended/ sanctioned/ executed under it, cost of works sanctioned, implementing agencies, quality of works completed, user agencies, etc. The district authorities are responsible for providing information to the public in the manner required under the RTI Act, 2005.
Under the guidelines, it has been stipulated that for all works executed under the scheme, a plaque (stone/ metal) carrying the inscription Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme Works indicating the cost involved, the commencement, completion and inauguration date and name of the MP sponsoring the project, should be erected permanently.
The MPLADS guidelines stipulate that the list of all completed and ongoing works with MPLADS funds should be displayed at the District Authority Office and posted Background and Policy on the website for information of the general public.
As per the Guidelines, there is a stipulated time limit of 75 days for consideration of sanction for a recommended work, and of one year for the completion of sanctioned work. In case of rejection of a work recommended by an MP, District Authority is to intimate to the MP within a period of 45 days with reasons thereof.
For greater transparency, it has been directed:
District Authorities are to provide information on any aspect of MPLAD Scheme, such as works recommended by MPs, works sanctioned/ not sanctioned, cost of works sanctioned, implementing agencies and quality of work completed to the general public in the manner as required under the RTI Act, 2005, as the implementation of the scheme has been brought under the purview of the said Act.
There is a MPLADS website (www.mplads.nic.in ) where information on release of funds, details of works completed and under execution are available. The District Authority is required to upload the work details on the website to make them available in the public domain.
In order to bring transparency and accountability at the ground level and to promote e-governance, software for monitoring MPLADS works was launched in November 2004. The software enables online monitoring of details of works and the analysis of this data is used to bring out various reports, once the data entry and uploading in respect of a constituency or a Rajya Sabha MP is completed.
The modus operandi of these funds are as follows:
* The Members of Parliament-MPs have a recommendatory role under the MP LAD Scheme. They recommend their choice of works to the concerned District Authorities who implement these works by following the established procedures of the concerned State Government.
* The District Authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, sanction funds and select the Implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level. The District Authorities get the works executed through the line departments, local self governments or other government agencies. In some cases, the District Authorities get the works executed through reputed non- government organizations (NGOs).
* Members from the Lok Sabha can recommend works in their respective constituencies. The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected. Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.
* There is no limit for works to be executed by government agencies. However, as per the background and policy, there is a ceiling of Rs25 lakh for works meant for the life time of each Trust/ Society. An MP can recommend funds only up to Rs50 lakh in a financial year from MPLADS funds for works to societies/ trusts.
* MPLADS works can be implemented in areas affected by natural calamities like, floods, cyclone, hailstorm, avalanche, cloud burst, pest attack, landslides, tornado, earthquake, drought, Tsunami, fire, chemical, biological and radiological hazards. MPs from the non-affected areas of the state can also recommend permissible works up to a maximum of Rs10 lakh per annum in the affected area(s) in that state.
* All recommended eligible works should be sanctioned within 75 days from the date of receipt of the recommendation, after completing all formalities. The District Authority shall, however, inform MPs regarding rejection, if any, within 45 days from the date of receipt of recommendations, with reasons thereof.
* The time frame for completion of works should be stipulated to the implementing agency and should not normally exceed one year.
LIST OF WORKS NOT PERMISSIBLE UNDER MPLADS
Office buildings, residential buildings, and other buildings relating to Central or State Governments, Departments, Agencies or Organisations.
Works belonging to commercial organisations, private institutions or co-operative institutions.
Repair and maintenance works of any type other than special repairs for restoration/ up-gradation of any durable asset.
Memorials or memorial buildings.
Acquisition of land or any compensation for land acquired.
Assets of individual benefit except those which are part of approved schemes.
Places for religious worship.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte with Vinita Kamte and is the author of The Mighty Fall.)