The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is an ongoing Central Sector Scheme which was launched in 1993-94. The Scheme enables the Members of Parliament to recommend works for creation of durable community assets based on locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies in the area of national priorities namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation, roads etc.
The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has been responsible for the policy formulation, release of funds and prescribing monitoring mechanism for implementation of the Scheme.
1]The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India. The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.
2]MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.
3]In order to encourage trusts and societies for the betterment of tribal people, a ceiling of Rs. 75 lakh is stipulated for building assets by trusts and societies subject to conditions prescribed in the scheme guidelines.
4]Lok Sabha Members can recommend works within their Constituencies and Elected Members of Rajya Sabha can recommend works within the State of Election (with select exceptions). Nominated Members of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the country.
5]All works to meet locally felt infrastructure and development needs, with an emphasis on creation of durable assets in the constituency are permissible under MPLADS as prescribed in the scheme guidelines. Expenditure on specified items of non durable nature are also permitted as listed in the guidelines.
1]A Member of Parliament shall give his/ her choice of Nodal District in a prescribed format to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with copy to the State Government and to the District Magistrate of the chosen District.
2]The annual entitlement of Rs 5 crore shall be released, in two equal instalments of Rs 2.5 crore each, by Government of India directly to the District Authority of the Nodal District of the Member of Parliament concerned.
3]Each MP shall recommend eligible work on the MP’s letter head duly signed by the MP to the district authority.
4]The District Authority shall identify the Implementing Agency capable of executing the eligible work qualitatively, timely and satisfactorily. It shall be responsible for timely and effective implementation of such works. 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.
5]MPLAD Scheme can be converged in individual/stand-alone projects of other Central and State Government schemes provided such works of Central/State Governments Schemes are eligible under MPLADS. Funds from local bodies can similarly also be pooled with MPLADS works. Wherever such pooling is done, funds from other scheme sources should be used first and the MPLADS funds should be released later, so that MPLADS fund results in completion of the project.
6]As soon as a work under the Scheme is completed, it should be put to public use. For greater public awareness, for all works executed under MPLADS a plaque (stone/metal) carrying the inscription ‘Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme Work’ indicating the cost involved, the commencement, completion and inauguration date and the name of the MP sponsoring the project should be permanently erected.
7]One MP – One Idea : In order to foster a grass-root bottoms-up approach to innovation and development and to arrive at solutions for local problems, which are sustainable and scalable, there is a need for seeking out and campaigning for ideas that have the potential to solve challenges. Accordingly, based on the innovative ideas received from the local people regarding developmental projects, a ‘One MP – One Idea’ Competition may be held in each Lok Sabha constituency annually to select the three best innovations for cash awards and certificate of appreciation for next five best innovations.
MPLADS SUSPENDED FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE :
The Narendra Modi government on Monday suspended the MPLADS funds and decided to divert the funds towards the Consolidated Fund of India, a term used for the total revenue collected by the government. Prakash Javadekar informed the press that the unprecedented move was taken to address the challenges in the government’s fight against COVID-19. He said the funds, around Rs 7,900 crore, will be used to purchase equipment for medical facilities, testing and screening of patients and development of medical infrastructure.
The government also amended the MPLADS guidelines which stipulates the MPs to use the existing corpus only on purchasing infra-red thermometers, personal protection equipment (PPE) for frontline health workers, thermal imaging scanners and cameras, ventilators, testing kits, and other medical equipment.
However, this did not go down well with many MPs who have already been diverting substantial sums of MPLADS towards the treatment and identification of COVID-19 patients in their respective constituencies.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST SUSPENSION :
1.The MPLAD scheme was designed, and has traditionally been utilised, to address and remedy gaps in our governance initiatives that may have been overlooked by the state and central government in their announcements of major development projects. By decentralising the allocations of development funds, MPLADS has allowed legislators to usher small scale and time-sensitive projects within their respective constituencies. In the fight against Covid-19, without waiting for the devolution of funds from the centre or states, parliamentarians would have been able to play a proactive role in bringing in much-needed protection and testing equipment locally and so improve the capacity of our frontline healthcare workers to address the spread of the pandemic. By removing the resources at their disposal to make critical interventions and bringing them under the ambit of the Consolidated Fund of India, the government has made all that impossible.
2. By centralising the allocation of funds, the government has created significant delays in the devolution of funds to where they are most needed.
3.MPLADS preserved the sense of direct responsibility for the well-being of constituents that is a hallmark of an Indian MP’s work. Now the money will be allocated by the Centre and will follow the priorities and preferences of New Delhi, rather than reflect 543 sets of local needs. This is bad enough, but it also raises other questions regarding allocations.
4.For instance according to Mr.Shashi Tharoor’s tweet , despite being one of the most affected regions, with 314 Covid-19 victims as of Monday, Kerala has so far only received Rs 157 crore from the first installment of the Centre’s share in the State Disaster Response Mitigation Fund, whereas other states that are less affected have received a larger portion of these funds from the Centre. Gujarat, for instance, with just 122 COVID-19 cases, got Rs 662 crore. Delhi’s priorities are evidently not those of a distant southern state where the BJP has no presence worth the name .
5.Critics have termed the move as anti-federal and an attempt by the government to centralise the power, rendering MPs powerless. Most opposition MPs have flayed the government for hijacking the resources they had for local level intervention in times of such a health crisis.
Keeping the present coronavirus pandemic outbreak and present economic slow down in view we can say that though suspending MPLADS is with an ambition to tackle the medical crisis in India , centralisation of these funds will leave states and local constituencies economically incapable of implementing rescue programmes against corona disaster.Reetika Khera, an economist, social scientist and currently professor at IIM Ahmedabad, says: “What we have seen in the past two weeks (on the background of coronavirus pandemic) is inaction and apathy at the central level, and proactive and creative policy initiatives at the state level, but the states do not have enough resources. To facilitate more decentralised and rapid responses, funds such as MPLADS could have played a crucial role.”