By Manvi Gupta, Faculty of Law, University of Allahabad.
The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a fully funded government scheme. Under this Scheme, the MPs are empowered to suggest work up to the value of 5 crores per annum, to the District Collector, in his/her constituency. Any one or more Districts of any one State, can be selected by the nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the implementation of their choice of work under the Scheme.
The aim of this Scheme is to enable and empower the MPs to develop their constituencies based on the apparent local needs for creation of durable community assets. This scheme aims to ensure that the developmental needs of the constituencies are met with.
This scheme was introduced on 23rd December, 1993 by the then Prime Minister, PV Narsimha Rao. It is a centrally sponsored scheme. The scheme was earlier under the administration of the Ministry of Rural Development, but now it is administered by the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation (MoSPI).
The scheme was launched in 1993-94 and back then Rs. 5 lakhs was fixed for each MP. From 1994-95 till 1997-98 Rs. 1 crore was fixed for each MP. In 1999, this amount was increased to Rs. 2 crores and then increased to Rs. 5 crores in 2012. The Finance Ministry turned down the proposal to a five-fold increase in the annual allocation from Rs. 5 crores to Rs. 25 Crores. Today, MPs, in their parliamentary constituencies, can recommend development works up to Rs. 5 crores per annum to the District Collector of a nodal District.
WORKING OF THE SCHEME
The MPs recommend the work and the District Authority is responsible for sanctioning the eligible works and implementation of the sanctioned ones. The funds are released in the form of Grants-in-aid directly to the District Authorities by the Government of India.
The supervision and monitoring of the scheme is in the hands of the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, which acts as the State Nodal Department. The work under this scheme can be implemented by different Government agencies or any NGO that is capable of implementing the work under the scheme effectively. The funds released under this scheme are non-lapsable, i.e. the entitlement of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.
Funds released by the Government of India under this scheme are to be deposited in nationalized banks. The interest arising from such deposit can be utilized only according to the guidelines of the scheme. Within 75 days of recommendation, the recommended eligible work should be sanctioned and the District Authorities should inform the MP within 45 days, if they reject the recommended work.
Work associated with this Scheme can also be done in areas affected by natural calamities, such as floods, earthquakes, landslides, droughts, tsunami, etc. The work can also be accomplished in association with MGNREGA, for creation of more durable assets.
Under MPLADS, special attention is also to be given to development of areas inhabited by Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 15% of the funds is to be used for area inhabited by Scheduled Castes and 7.5% of the funds is to be used for area inhabited by Scheduled Tribes.
For transparency and accountability, the information of the work carried on under the scheme is to be made available on the MPLADS website, by the District Authority. The District Authority is also supposed to provide information to the public about the working of the Scheme as required under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The list of completed and ongoing work under the Scheme should also be displayed at the District Authority Office. The work carried on under the Scheme should also carry a plaque at the workplace with the inscription, “Member of Parliaments Local Area Development Scheme Works”, showing the name of the MP sponsoring the project, the date of commencement, cost of the project and completion and inauguration of the project. In November, 2004, software for monitoring MPLADS work was launched to promote e-governance, transparency and accountability.
WORK PERMISSIBLE UNDER THE SCHEME
The works permissible under this scheme are mostly of national importance and they should be given priority. Work relating to provision of drinking water, public health and family welfare, education, sanitation, sports, development of roads, irrigation, electricity facility, animal care, etc. is sought to be accomplished under this scheme.
WORK NOT PERMISSIBLE UNDER THE SCHEME
Work not permissible to be carried out under the scheme includes, office or residential buildings other than that of Central or State Governments, Departments, Agencies or Organizations. Places of religious worship, acquisition of land or assets for individual benefit, memorial buildings, etc. do not fall under the ambit of this scheme.
Work done under this scheme has not been satisfactory so far. There have been many reports of misuse of funds released by the government, violations of the guidelines of the scheme by MPs and DAs, and poor monitoring policies, are a few afflictions attached with this scheme. The funds released are non-lapsable and the unspent amount is increasing year after year. A Performance Audit Report No. 31 in 2011 on MPLADS observed that there is no need to continue a scheme which has spectacularly failed to deliver its purpose. The scheme is failing as the MPs do not have the knowledge of the actual needs of their constituencies.
The MPLADS website is not compliant with the guidelines laid under the scheme as the website provides information relating only to the disbursed funds of the MPs but doesn’t provide any information with regard to any of the proposals for work, or progress or completion of the work, which is to be mandatorily uploaded. Mostly, plaques of MPLADS work are also not seen at workplaces.
Though there is a constant demand for scrapping the scheme, the scheme helps in development of the constituencies in one way or another, either in small or big ways. The Scheme can be implemented effectively if the MPs and other persons related to the scheme are aware of the developmental needs of the constituencies. Since its inception, the Scheme had sanctioned a total number of 18,82,180 works for Rs. 44,929.17 crores till August, 2017. The Scheme tries to fulfill the infrastructural needs of the local people. The scheme has also benefited the local people, through creation of durable assets in various sectors, such as drinking water supply, education, roads, bridges, etc. Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are the best performing States under this scheme, whereas States of Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan and Assam do not even cross the 1 crore-mark for project recommendations.
The Scheme has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) to continue through the term of the 14th Finance Commission, i.e., 2020.