Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious village adoption scheme for MPs — the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) — could run into rough weather as several Opposition Lok Sabha members have expressed reservations about using their MPLADS funds for the scheme.
It is learnt that M Thambidurai, chairman of the committee on MPLADS, is set to convene a meeting of all MPs as early as next week to discuss this issue as well as the demand for increasing the MPLADS fund from the current Rs 5 crore.
Thambidurai told The Sunday Express that the government would have to provide funds for the scheme. While the government has not allocated separate funds for the programme, it envisages use of resources of existing centrally sponsored and state schemes like the Indira Awas Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, and funds available with the gram panchayats.
The MPs will have to “mobilise additional resources to the extent possible, particularly from CSR (corporate social responsibility) and philanthropies” and “fill up critical gaps in the plan using MPLADS funds”, say the guidelines. But several Lok Sabha members said they could not “exhaust” their MPLADS funds for just one village, depriving the people in the rest of their constituency.
Thambidurai said the idea of MPs raising funds from “CSR and philanthropies” was unworkable.
“I spoke with the MPLADS committee. Let the government programmes — whatever they have in the different ministries… let each ministry give some funds for the model village, not just the MPLADS. I am going to insist on this. The Rural Development Ministry is in charge for that. I have also told the chairman of the standing committee on rural development to raise this issue with the ministry,” said Thambidurai.
He said MPLADS can also be used to fund the scheme, but it has to be the choice of the MP. As it is, many MPs are of the view that the MPLADS fund of Rs 5 crore per year is inadequate.
“In Kerala, each MLA gets Rs 6 crore — Rs 1 crore as MLA fund and Rs 5 crore as constituency asset development fund. In my view, this model can be adopted for the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. I have suggested this to the chairman of the MPLADS committee,” said CPI(M) MP from Palakkad M B Rajesh.
Meanwhile, the NDA government has already asked MPs to contribute their MPLADS funds for Modi’s other projects.
# The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation wrote to all MPs on August 11— the letter was sent by then minister Nitin Gadkari — asking for allocation of MPLADS funds for constructing individual household latrines, school and anganwadi toilets, community sanitary complexes and for solid liquid waste management projects under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan.
# HRD Minister Smriti Irani sent a letter to MPs on October 14 asking them to pitch in to achieve Modi’s goal of providing separate toilets for girls in schools. “I ask you to contribute to this programme by providing MPLADS funds for the construction of toilets in schools,” she wrote.
The average cost, she said, ranged from Rs 1.3 lakh for one toilet block in elementary schools to Rs 2.7 lakh for a toilet block in secondary schools, with an additional Rs 80,000 per toilet block for water supply.
* Three days later, then Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari asked MPs to identify a village in their constituencies under the SAGY.
“It is strange that the Prime Minister is giving slogans and asking the MPs to contribute from their MPLADS funds. And he will want to take the credit,” said Rajesh.
“As an MP we have two to three districts under us, covering anywhere between 350 to 400 villages. Our aim is to make every village an ideal village. I do not understand the aim to make one village a model village, shouldn’t they have provided some extra funds… I want to make a model district. why should I restrict myself to one village,” said Congress MP from Kaliabor, Gaurav Gogoi.