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Monday, May 25, 2020

Explained: What are MPLAD funds, suspended over COVID-19 crisis?

The guidelines recommend MPs to suggest works costing at least 15 per cent of their MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by ST population.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 7, 2020 9:38:28 pm
President Ram Nath Kovind with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu. (PTI Photo/File)

On Monday, the Union Cabinet gave its nod to the temporary suspension of MPLAD Funds during 2020-21 and 2021-22 in view of the adverse impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 in India.

“The consolidated amount of MPLAD Funds for 2 years – Rs 7,900 crores – will go to Consolidated Fund of India,” Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said.

The Cabinet has approved an ordinance to reduce the salaries, allowances and pensions of Members of Parliament (MPs), including the Prime Minister, by 30 per cent for one year and the amount would be utilised in the fight against coronavirus.

What is the MPLAD scheme?

The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a programme first launched during the Narasimha Rao Government in 1993, aimed towards providing funds for developmental works recommended by individual MPs.

The MPs were entitled to recommend works to the tune of Rs 1 crore annually between 1994-95 and 1997-98, after which the annual entitlement was enhanced to Rs 2 crore.

The UPA government in 2011-12 raised the annual entitlement to Rs 5 crore per MP.

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According to the document ‘Guidelines on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)’ published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in June 2016, “The objective of the scheme is to enable MPs to recommend works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt needs to be taken up in their Constituencies. Right from inception of the Scheme, durable assets of national priorities viz. drinking water, primary education, public health, sanitation and roads, etc. are being created.”

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The guidelines recommend MPs to suggest works costing at least 15 per cent of their MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by ST population.

“In other words, out of an amount of Rs 5 crore, an MP shall recommend for areas inhabited by SC population, Rs75 lacs and Rs.37.5 lacs for areas inhabited by S.T. population. In case there is insufficient tribal population in the area of Lok Sabha Member, they may recommend this amount for the creation of community assets in tribal areas outside of their constituency but within their State of election,” the guidelines say.

To implement their plans in an area, MPs have to recommend them to the District Authority of the respective Nodal District. The District Authorities then identify Implementing Agencies which execute the projects.

The respective District Authority is supposed to oversee implementation, and has to submit monthly reports, audit reports, and work completion reports to the Nodal District Authority.

What kind of projects are executed

The guidelines lay down a number of development works, including construction of railway halt stations, providing financial assistance to recognised educational bodies, cooperative societies, bar associations, installing CCTV cameras, and rainwater harvesting systems,

The MPLADS funds can be merged with other schemes such as MGNREGA and Khelo India.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, in its January 2007 report, said: “Discretionary funds at the disposal of legislators or the power to determine specific projects and schemes or select beneficiaries or authorise expenditure shall constitute discharge of executive functions and may invite disqualification.”

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MPLADS was held constitutionally valid by the Supreme Court in its May 6, 2010 judgment.

In July 2019, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh wrote to members, seeking their suggestions on how to address various problems plaguing the MPLADS, as pointed out by numerous reports both by Parliamentary Committees and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

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