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The suburban and city collectors’ offices in Mumbai have been receiving a flood of requests for release of MPLAD funds as the city’s Lok Sabha members race against time to utilise as much as possible before the election code of conduct comes into effect. On a single day last week, the suburban Mumbai collector’s office processed 100 applications, an official there said.
Government functionaries attribute the last-minute scramble to the MPs’ failure to exhaust the funds allowed during the first four-and-a-half years of their tenures. The funds allowed have gone up from Rs 2 crore a year to Rs 5 crore since 2011, with interest and special funds taking the five-year total into the region of Rs 20 lakh. All six Mumbai MPs have taken up works above Rs 5 crore in 2013-14, seeking to make up for the low utilisation in the earlier years.
Mumbai South Central’s Eknath Gaikwad has recommended 108 new works, collectively amounting to Rs 11.40 crore, having utilised only Rs 6.38 crore of the Rs 14 crore available in the first four years. Official records from the collector’s office reveal, however, that some of the funds for those works are yet to be distributed as they remain incomplete.
In Mumbai North Central, Priya Dutt has recommended works worth Rs 6.81 crore in 2013-14. Of the Rs 14 crore in the first four years, she utilised only Rs 10.95 crore. In Mumbai Northwest, Gurudas Kamat utilised Rs 7.60 crore in four years and has now recommended projects worth Rs 6.40 crore. Mumbai North’s Sanjay Nirupam, Mumbai Northeast’s Sanjay Dina Patil, and Mumbai South’s Milind Deora have this year respectively taken up works worth Rs 5.97 crore, Rs 5.65 crore, and Rs 5.35 crore, the records show.
Most of the MPs The Indian Express spoke to attributed the last-minute rush to delays in administrative approvals. Despite the rush, government sources said most MPs may have to finish their terms without spending the entire amounts at their disposal. Approval and disbursal of funds to new works will stop once the code of conduct is in place.