Context: Government has refused demands to restore MPLADS funds.
- The government has suspended the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) Scheme so that these funds would be available for its COVID-19 management efforts.
- MPLADS is a Central Sector Scheme, a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India.
- Under the scheme, each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for works to the tune of Rs.5 Crores per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.
- The Rajya Sabha Members of Parliament can recommend works in one or more districts in the State from where he/she has been elected.
- The Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select any one or more Districts from any one State in the Country for implementation of their choice of work under the scheme.
- The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable and the funds received by a district in a particular year can be utilized in the subsequent financial year(s) also.
- Moreover, unspent balance is not an unused fund but also includes the funds in pipeline for implementation of ongoing works.
- 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.
- 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.
- Around ₹20 lakh of the MPLADS fund per annum has been allotted for the welfare of differently abled people. Suspension of the MPLADS undermines the developmental aspirations of these marginalised segments.
How does the scheme work?
- MPs and MLAs do not receive any money under these schemes. The government transfers it directly to the respective local authorities.
- The legislators can only recommend works in their constituencies based on a set of guidelines. For the MPLAD Scheme, the guidelines focus on the creation of durable community assets like roads, school buildings etc.
- Recommendations for non-durable assets can be made only under limited circumstances.
- For example, during COVID-19 pandemic, the government allowed use of MPLAD funds for the purchase of personal protection equipment, coronavirus testing kits etc.
- States have their version of this scheme with varying amounts per MLA.
- The guidelines for use of MLALAD funds differ across states.
- After the legislators give the list of developmental works, they are executed by the district authorities as per the governments financial, technical and administrative rules.
Why has the scheme been sometimes criticised?
- The criticism has been on two broad grounds.
- First, that it is inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution as it co-opts legislators into executive functioning.
- The workload on MPs created by the scheme diverted their attention from holding the government accountable and other legislative work.
- The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2000) and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by Veerappa Moily (2007), recommended discontinuation of the scheme.
- The second criticism stems from allegations of corruption associated with allocation of works.
- The Comptroller and Auditor General has on many occasions highlighted gaps in implementation.
- However, it should be noted that the second instalment of funds is released only when the first instalment is fully utilised with no audit objections.
“One MP – One Idea”
- The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has announced a new scheme “One MP – One Idea” under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
- Based on the innovative ideas received from the local people regarding developmental projects, an ‘One MP – One Idea’ Competition may be held in each Lok Sabha constituency annually to select the three best innovations for cash awards on the specific request of an MP to promote such a scheme in his/her constituency.