Survey reveals how MPs have made a thorough hash of development fund scheme
Keshubhai Patel, a former member of parliament (mp) from Gujarat and a veteran leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp), is known to champion farmers' causes. Yet he didn't spend a single rupee out of the Rs 10 crore he got during the past five years under the mp Local Area Development Scheme (mplads). The new Union minister for railways, Laloo Prasad Yadav, wants the centre to give Bihar a massive development package. But he, too, failed to utilise the mplad money in his previous term as an mp.
In fact, till March 2003, as many as 31 Rajya Sabha mps had not tapped any resources made available under the scheme. Two-thirds of them belonged to the bjp and Congress. These facts have surfaced in a report brought out by the Delhi-based research group, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (cbga).
It is the first civil society scrutiny of the scheme. The document deals with mplads' impact on local development, public awareness about the scheme and an institutional mechanism to make spending transparent. The impression that the study conveys is that mplads, with an annual budget of Rs 1,500 crore, is perhaps one of India's most unsuccessful development programmes.
mps of both the houses have spent nearly Rs 10,000 crore since the scheme's launch in 1993, but the gains aren't visible yet. Corruption, greed for electoral gains, delays in project implementation and lack of accountability have made it ineffective, says the report.
The document was released in May 2004, and is based on a survey of constituencies in Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Gujarat. "The fact that few mps responded to our request for information on the scheme's implementation indicates their level of commitment," says Nesar Ahmed, a researcher for the report. Only 17 mps from the 13th Lok Sabha and 15 from the Rajya Sabha answered cbga's queries.
Ironically, parliament approved mplads on December 23, 1993, because mps kept demanding that they should get funds for developmental work in their constituencies. The government first gave Rs 5 lakh annually to each mp, and later raised the amount to Rs 2 crore. mps are now demanding that they should get at least Rs 4 crore annually.
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