As Lok Sabha members complete a year in office, Mumbai’s six Members of Parliament appear to have collectively stumbled on one aspect — Usage of the Rs 30-crore MP Local Area Development Funds (MPLAD) kitty for the city.
Data accessed through Right to Information plea by MumbaiVotes shows that of the Rs 5 crore per year for each MP, or Rs 30 crore in total, they have spent Rs 1.96 crore on development works in their constituencies, about 6 per cent of the total.
BJP’s Kirit Somaiya features at the bottom of the chart, with no bills on works he has initiated. The Sena’s Arvind Sawant, at 12 per cent, has spent the maximum among Mumbai’s six MPs. However, proposals worth Rs 23.67 crore were approved, mostly for construction of toilets, welfare centres, local markets, maintenance of open spaces and so on.
As per procedure, MPs recommend works to the collector, who then sanctions eligible projects.
Also, on other counts such as participation in Parliamentary debates and attendance, Mumbai’s six MPs have performed better than the national average.
With only 18 members in Lok Sabha, the Shiv Sena appears to have had more opportunities on the floor of the house. Statistics show that the three Sena MPs have been more vocal than Mumbai’s BJP parliamentarians. The three Sena MPs asked 370 questions and participated in 88 debates, while the BJP MPs asked 273 questions and spoke in 51 debates.
Vivek Gilani, founder, MumbaiVotes, said: “Three of the MPs – Sawant, Somaiya and Kirtikar- were responsive to the process of verifying their performance against their promises. The other three were intractable despite trying for three months. If a non-governmental organisation finds it so difficult to speak to MPs about their performance, it speaks about how the public still does not have adequate access to their public representatives.”
He added that the delay in execution of projects after getting works sanctioned under MP local area development scheme is a chronic issue, which was seen even with the previous batch of MPs.
The MPs React
Gopal Shetty, BJP, Mumbai North (Borivali, Dahisar, Kandivali, Charkop and Malad). His pre-poll promises included action against builder-bureaucrat nexus, widening and maintenance of roads, flyovers, steps to reduce railway accidents.
On low expenditure from funds: “Implementation has not begun in full earnest due to the time taken in securing permissions. For example, I have proposed two big playgrounds at Charkop, but both are held up as they abut the Coastal Regulation Zone area.”
On priorities: “I have strongly taken up the issue of legalising Campa Cola, and ensuring that all slums are given basic amenities such as electricity and water. My priority is to also protect open land by developing public recreational spaces to stem slum proliferation. I have also worked on improving hygiene in Malad under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan by setting up toilets. The one issue I have been unable to resolve is to get the government to withdraw a 2011 circular that restricts construction around defence establishments. This has stalled several new real estate and redevelopment projects in my constituency. We got some relief after our meeting with the defence minister, who directed that pre-2011 proposals can be cleared, but we have been unable to quash the circular entirely.”
On participation in Parliament: “Questions to be addressed are picked through a lottery system. I have been unlucky. During debates, because we belong to the ruling party we cannot make a lot of noise. Besides, in every debate at least two members from every party get a chance to speak. There are 281 members of the BJP in the house, while the Shiv Sena has only 18 members, which gives my Sena colleagues a better chance to participate.”
What his detractors say: Sanjay Nirupam, former MP of the constituency, claimed, “No major issue in the constituency has been addressed. The projects undertaken in the constituency seem very pro-builder.”
Kirit Somaiya, BJP, Mumbai North East (Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup, Ghatkopar, Mankhurd, Shivajinagar). His pre-poll promises included better railway amenities, reviving major infrastructure projects such as Haji Ali to Nariman Point Sealink, the Brimstowad project and the coastal road project.
On low expenditure from funds: “There were delays in executing the projects because of Assembly elections and code of conduct last year. I have also been fighting corruption in the local area development funds system, which took a major part of my time and efforts. Also, the expenditure unit is updated only once the payment is released to the contractors, the release of this payment does not fall under the MP’s scope of work.”
On priorities: “As part of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, I am working towards providing individual toilet blocks in every slum and chawl with a Rs 50-lakh pilot project at Vikhroli Parksite. I am also looking at using the funds for extending LED facilities to all schools in the city. I have raised many questions on the illegal mobile towers in the city, problems with the dumping yard, railways and ponzi schemes.”
On participation in Parliament: “I think it would be unfair to compare MPs. The issues and debates one participates in also depend on the specialization in the subject. I think all the MPs from Mumbai have been very active and their performance has also been exceptional.”
What his detractors say: Sanjay Dina Patil, former NCP MP from the constituency said, “He has worked, but it is 10 per cent work and 100 per cent publicity.”
Arvind Sawant, Shiv Sena, Mumbai South (Worli, Sewri, Byculla, Malabar Hill, Mumbadevi, Colaba) His pre-poll promises included relaxation of the Coastal Regulation Zone norms, promoting cluster redevelopment projects, modifying existing the railway coach design to reduce accidents and unlocking Mumbai Port Trust land.
On low expenditure from funds: “The funds cannot be used for repairs of old buildings, which are in excess in my constituency, particularly in Girgaum. Another reason is the introduction of the e-tendering system, where every work more than Rs 3 lakh has to be tendered. A majority of the contractors don’t come forward to undertake projects in such a case.”
On priorities: “I have been pushing for the coastal road project, the development of the eastern waterfront and rehabilitation of people living in Mumbai Port Trust chawls. I have also been striving to provide vocational guidance to young people.”
On participation in Parliament: “We live by the party’s ideology and principles set years ago. We are definitely more aggressive and vocal about issues in comparison to the other parties. Even if we are the ruling party, we oppose proposals that we think are not in favour of the citizens of Mumbai.”
What his detractors say: Amin Patel, Congress MLA from Mumbadevi, said, “We have not seen Sawant in the constituency. Attendance is not the only criteria for good performance, ultimately people should benefit from having a representative in Parliament.”
Rahul Shewale, Shiv Sena, Mumbai South Central (Chembur, Sion, Matunga, Dadar, Wadala, Mahim) His pre-poll promises included establishing an authority to implement Mumbai’s Development Plan, relaxing CRZ norms for development, more transportation facilities, water supply, health, education and solid waste infrastructure.
On low expenditure from funds: “Most of the works sanctioned are on schedule. Some have also been completed, but the billing process is still under way.”
On priorities: “My first target is to implement the Right to Pee movement’s initiative of mapping all the toilets in the six constituencies. Improving sanitation facilities for women and senior citizens is a big priority, I am also trying to introduce the concept of bio-toilets in my constituency. I do not want any woman to suffer because of lack of sanitation facilities. We are also using funds for improving gardens and traffic islands.”
On participation in Parliament: “We follow the party agenda that actually makes us more vocal about citizens’ issues. As I am also associated with the Mumbai civic body, I know the local issues affecting people. Even if we are the ruling party, we make it a point to raise our voice against bills if they are not citizen-centric.”
What his detractors say: Jagannath Shetty, senior Congress leader and former MLA from Sion Koliwada, said, “Shewale is doing good work in all aspects. Even though he belongs to a different party, we have no issues with his work.”
Poonam Mahajan, BJP, Mumbai North Central (Vile Parle, Chandivali, Kurla, Kalina, Bandra) Her pre-poll promises included development of gaothans, relaxing CRZ norms for this purpose, promoting affordable housing, unlocking unused railway land.
On low expenditure from funds: “The statistics in the report are not right as they do not update the information on a day-to-day basis. I have used a majority of the funds for creating new toilet blocks in my constituency, construction of new footpaths, new sheds, creating libraries, a balwadi,.a playground for children and various garden fencing projects.”
On priorities: “I have taken up larger issues like the Centre’s Street Vending Policy, which has affected the city, and issues related to slums. My efforts are to push for Mumbai as a global city. I want to take this agenda forward by making BKC Complex in my constituency a service resource.”
What her detractors say: Naseem Khan, former Congress minister, said, “Simply talking about making Mumbai a global finance centre in a conference or to the media does not help. Mahajan should raise this issue in Parliament. None of the six BJP-Shiv Sena MPs have managed to get anything from the Centre for Mumbai’s development, which did not even feature in the budget.”
Gajanan Kirtikar, Shiv Sena, Mumbai North Central (Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Versova, Andheri). His pre-poll promises included implementing the coastal road project, speeding up stalled housing projects, strengthening the railways’ medical emergency response system.
On low expenditure from funds: “The entire process of implementation has slowed down due to e-tendering.”
His priorities (as stated to MumbaiVotes): “Provided financial assistance under the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to patients suffering from serious illnesses such as blood cancer and Hepatitis C. Conducted a recce of Andheri station, taking note of problems such as lack of adequate drinking water, ticket windows for senior citizens and women, and so on.”
What his detractors say: Ashok Jadhav, former Congress MLA from Juhu, said, “Kirtikar did not have any particular pre-poll promises specific to the constituency to judge him on that. People mostly voted based on the BJP’s promises to them, and none of those seem to be anywhere close to being fulfilled.”