MPs don’t have enough funds for Modi’s pet schemes

By Sreeparna Chakrabarty ,

New Delhi: Insistence on using MPLADS funds for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet schemes of Clean India and adopting a village is meeting with resistance from a section of Members of Parliament, who are demanding separate funds for executing these programmes.

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Under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), each MP has the choice to suggest to the district collector works to the tune of Rs.5 crore per annum to be taken up in his or her constituency. The Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament can recommend works in one or more districts in the state from where he or she has been elected.

IANS spoke to a number of MPs who said diversion of Rs.5 crore allocated to them under MPLADS would cripple other developmental activities in their constituencies as they could end up spending a substantial amount for the development of the model village and for Clean India projects.

Most opposition leaders were ready to be quoted on record, but BJP MPs — when approached by IANS — refused to comment at all on the subject. But sources in the Parliament Secretariat told IANS that Deputy Speaker M. Thambi Durai has called for a meeting of all MPs next week to discuss the issue.
Speaking to IANS, M.B. Rajesh, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP from Kerala, said: “The issue is that it is very difficult for MPs to finish development work committed by them within the sanctioned amount. If you really want to develop a village adopted, then what happens to the rest of the work in your constituency?”

The same holds good for the Clean India campaign where MPs are supposed to construct toilets in schools and community centres, he said.

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha combined have nearly 900 MPs at present. According to the 2001 census, India has 638,596 villages.

Elaborated Rajesh: “For example, I have adopted a tribal village in my constituency for the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojna (SAGY). . If I spend the entire amount on that what will happen to my other commitments?”
The CPI-M MP said to tide over these problems, he has approached industrialists in his constituency to help out through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) objectives and was also trying other ways of resource mobilization.

According to Rajya Sabha MP Balchandra Mungekar of the Congress, “Leave alone the new schemes, the current MPLADS funds is not enough to even fund the usual development schemes.”

“Anyway funds have not been released to MPs from 2012. I have also adopted a village, but if I spend the entire Rs.5 crore on one village what happens to the other development works,” Mungekar told IANS.

Rajesh said the MPs have approached Thambi Durai, who is chairman of the MPLADS committee, seeking either an increase in the funds or separate allocation for the new schemes.

The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana was launched by Modi on Oct 11 — Jayaprakash Narayan’s birth anniversary.

The scheme encourages MPs from both houses to identify and develop one village from their constituency as a model village by 2016, and two more by 2019, covering over 2,500 villages of the more than six lakh villages country-wide.

MPs were required to identify one village with a population of 3,000-5,000 in the plains and 1,000-3,000 in the hills within a month for convergence of existing schemes for socio-economic development of the area.

Most MPs have identified the villages and have immediately run into a funds crunch.

Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy told IANS that MPs from his party have not joined the schemes as “there are no funds”.

“We will do things our own way,” he added.

The Clean India campaign was launched by Modi on Oct 2.

Soon thereafter, Nitin Gadkari, who then also was rural development minister, had written to parliamentarians requesting them to allocate funds from their MPLADS for the construction of toilets in village homes, schools and anganwadis.

(Sreeparna Chakrabarty can be contacted at [email protected])