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MPLADS – Arguments for and against

MPLADS – Arguments for and against

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-2-  Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

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.

What is done under it:

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.

  • 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 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.

Arguments for MPLADS:

  • The responsibility of an MP does not end with the supervision of administration and legislation.
  • He has to find solutions to the grievances of the electorateof his constituency and promote their developmental aspirations. 
  • As Parliament is a multifunctional institution, an MP is a multifunctional representative.
  • His representative and grievance ventilation functions may not end with petitioning ministers and officials.
  • An MP knows the developmentaland welfare issues of his constituency better than anyone else.
  • The MPLADS has enabled MPs to play a leadership role in the developmental process of his constituency and sort out its day-to-day problems.
  • The scheme has been accused of giving space for corruption. This is not supported by empirical data.
  • The vital role of an MP in the MPLADS ends with selecting micro development projectsfor his constituency.
  • Implementation of these projects is done by district-level officersunder the vigilant eye of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. 
  • The projects are implemented according to the Ministry’s guidelines.
  • Furthermore, the Scheme undergoes an impartial and meticulous auditing.
  • The second instalment of funds is released only when the first instalment is fully utilised with no audit objections.
  • MPLADS has been an antidote to the State favouritism of spending in certain regions alone. The Scheme provided opposition MPs some chance to cater to the developmental needs of their constituency.
  • Aspirations of the marginalised
  • Of the MPLADS corpus, 15% has been earmarked for the development of Scheduled Castesand 5% for the Scheduled Tribes.
  • Around Rs. 20 lakh of the MPLADS fund per annum has been allotted for the welfare of differently abled people.
  • Suspension of the MPLADS undermines the developmental aspirations of these marginalised segments.

Arguments against:

It is suffering from the following issues,

  • First is the issue of corruption– there have been cases of widespread corruption and misappropriation of funds.
  • Low utilisation of fundsand an expenditure bias towards a particular sector.
  • MPLADS creates several issues of accountability and jurisdiction.
  • It impinges on separation of powers, both horizontally across different organs of state,and vertically across different levels of governance.
  • And since the financial audit of MPLADS is done by the Comptroller and Auditor General and further examined by the Public Accounts Committeeconsisting of Members of Parliament, it adds another layer of conflict.
  • MPLADS is typically spent on capital worksat the local level such as a bus stop, hand pumps, school rooms, etc. These fall within the domain of the panchayats and municipalities.
  • Members of these bodiesare elected to perform an executive role and hence against the separation of powers.
  • Other issues like specified by CAG,
  1. Use of lesser quantities of material than specified by contractors resulting inexcess payments and substandard works
  2. No accountability  for the expenditure in terms of thequality and quantities executed against specifications.
  3. Register of assetscreated, as required under the scheme, not maintained, therefore location and existence of assets could not be verified.

What is needed:

  • greater focus on regular monitoringby the District Authorities.
  • In order to better assess the needs of the constituents, surveys can be conducted across the constituency.
  • An impact assessment studyshould be undertaken at the constituency level.
  • Funds lying unusedcan be put to other uses.

Source:” The Hindu“.

POSSIBLE UPSC CSE MAINS QUESTION:

The MPLADS fund has been suspended considering the COVID – 19 pandemic. In this scenario, critically examine the pros and cons of the scheme.