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Abolition of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)

  • IASbaba
  • May 7, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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POLITY/ GOVERNANCE 

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure
  • Government policies and interventions for development in Health sectors

Abolotion of Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)

Context: 

Recently, Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) was suspended by the Central government for two years.  

  • All Opposition parties have criticised the Government’s move.  
  • However, the government has reasoned that these funds are needed to strengthen the government’s efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of COVID-19 in the country. 

What is MPLADS?  

  • Under the scheme, each Member of Parliament may suggest works to the District Collector amounting ₹5 crores per year which can be taken up in his/her constituency. 

However, the experts feel that the MPLADs scheme should be completely abolished due to following reasons: 

Separation of powers 

  • The scheme gives an executive function to legislators.  
  • hardly any authorities in the district who have the courage to defy the wishes of an MP. 

CAG’s observations 

  • According to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG)’s report, utilisation of funds is between 49 to 90% of the allotted amount.  
  • Though the scheme envisages that works under the scheme should be limited to asset creation78% of the works that were recommended were for improvement of existing assets.  
  • Lesser quantities of material were used than specified by contractors resulting in excess payments and sub-standard works.  
  • There was no accountability for the expenditure in terms of the quality and quantities executed.  
  • Delays in issuing work orders ranged from 5 to 387 days in 57% of the works. The work order must be issued within 45 days of the receipt of recommendation by the MP.  
  • Without following the correct procedure, extensions of time were granted to the contractors.  
  • Register of assets created were not maintained. Thus, location and existence of assets could not be verified. 

Gaps in utilization 

  • There are wide variations in the utilisation of the MPLAD amount in various constituencies.  
  • According to a report published in IndiaSpend:  
  • 298 of 542 Lok Sabha members had not spent a rupee from the ₹5 crore that is set aside annually for them to develop their constituencies even after a year of their election. 
  • Though ₹1,757 crore had been released for MPLADs, only ₹281 crore had been utilised by all the 543 MPs till May 15, 2015.  
  • This means only 16% of the money had been spent in one year by all the MPs put together.  
  • Since the MPLADS began in 1993, ₹5,000 crore was lying unspent with various district authorities by May 15, 2015. 

Funds being utilised for appeasement  

  • MPLADS funds are also used to appease opinion-makers and favourite contractors.  
  • Often, the contractor is a relative, close friend, or a confidant of the MP.  

Constitutional validity 

  • Constitutional validity of MPLADS was challenged in the Supreme Court of India in 1999, followed by petitions in 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2005.  
  • The combined judgment for all these petitions was delivered in 2010 and the scheme was held constitutional. 
  • It is often pointed out that the judgement was pronounced without an assessment of the situation prevalent in the field.  
  • Audit reports wherein gross irregularities and infirmities in implementation have been pointed out were not considered as evidence .  

Conclusion  

  • Reports of underutilisation and misutilisation of MPLADS funds continue to surface at regular intervals but no serious attempt has been made to do anything about it till now.   
  • It would be in public interest to convert the two-year suspension into the complete abolition of this scheme. 
  • The same fund could be utilised for health and education purposes and in generating employment.  

Connecting the dots  

  • While taking over MPLADS funds to fight the virus, Centre must allocate judiciously.

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