Modi Government's new initiative: Third party to monitor MPLAD?

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Development work under MPLAD
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always preached "Minimum Government and Maximum Governance." Right from the very first day in Office, he underscored the point that transparency and accountability must be maintained at any cost. Prime Minister believes that people who gave the mandate have every right to know what is being planned for them. Citizens of the country should know what is the exact status of various schemes and policies, announced with the purpose of providing good and service to them. That is why, Prime Minister directed all his Ministers to have an account on social media so that everything be in public domain and people in a way feel a sense of attachment with that. Almost all Cabinet Ministers put up the whole record of their day to day business on Twitter.

Some of the recent steps of Modi Government have been highly applauded like abolition of GoMs and EGoMs, and invitation to SAARC leader for swearing-in ceremony, because of their repercussion in national politics.

Around 163 MPs spent much less of the sanctioned fund in 15th Lk Sabha.

Adding to that, the Government has now set up a mechanism which will scrutinise the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds. In the backdrop of large-scale corruption in the scheme, a third party other than the current Ministry will keep an eye over the fund. They will monitor whole account of sanctioned fund, how much being spend on developmental work. At present, Statistics and Programme Implementation Ministry is looking after the whole process.

According to the Mail Today report, the Ministry will hire a third party service for making whole process more transparent and thus lessening the scope of corruption.

The report further says, the Ministry is in talk with some of well acclaimed organisations and academic institutions for that. Some big consulting firm is also in the chart of Ministry.

The exact role will be like they will inspect the work sites first and after taking stock from local people a report will be submitted. Initially, it will be started with 50- 100 districts and after the success it will be implemented in whole country.

What is MPLADS?

Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) came into existence in 1993. In the beginning only Rs 1 crores used to be allocated under the scheme then it became Rs 2 crore and in 2011 it became Rs 5 crores. Initially, it created controversy as experts questioned the rationale behind allocation of this colossal amount giving rise in corruption cases. But in 2010, the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional validity of scheme.

"The information furnished shows that the scheme has benefited the local community by meeting its various developmental needs such as drinking water facility, education, electricity, health and family welfare, irrigation, non-conventional energy, community centres, public libraries, bus stands, roads, pathways, bridges and sports infrastructure. Parliament has the power to enquire and take appropriate action against erring members. Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have set up standing committees to monitor the works," Justice Sathasivam said.

Although the Court highlighted the point that there should be check and balances in process and for that Parliament can act at time.

"A mere allegation of misuse of the funds by some MPs in itself may not be a ground for scrapping of the scheme as checks and safeguards have been provided," said the Constitution Bench.

Although every year cases of misappropriation comes into light. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report also validates this point.

While answering a question in Rajya Sabha in 2013, Minister of State for Statistics Srikant Kumar Jena said, "The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its performance audit report of 2010-2011 for the period 2004-2005 to 2008-2009 pointed out certain violations of guidelines and irregularities in implementation of MPLADS".

MPs dismal record

Although whole idea is in nascent stage but if executed rigorously this will definitely be a revolutionary step. Currently, amount of Rs 5 crores is sanctioned under the scheme but either MPs don't spend it properly or misuse it. According to the Ministry report, around 163 MPs of 15th Lok Sabha spent much less of the sanctioned fund and the list includes some of the big stalwarts of politics. This is the case in almost all parties. Top names in BJP are Home Minister Rajnath Singh, women and Child welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi and Shahnawaz Hussain. Even UPA is not very far in the competition and previous Ministers like Union ministers V Narayanswamy, Sriprakash Jaiswal and Harish Rawat are the worst performers.

Although Politicians always have their reason and this time too they waste no time in giving lame excuses. "I have recommended works of about Rs 17 crore but the district authorities have not completed the work. There is also a chance that they might not have updated the records," said former Union Minister Narayanswamy.

Similarly, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain opined, "I can only recommend work. The district authorities are responsible for implementation and if they are not spending the money and not updating the records, what can I do?"

Once this new mechanism will come in place MPs will mend their ways themselves. They will have to show all records, where they spent allocated money. Prime Minister Narendra Modi always advocated the people's right during his campaign. Now it's time to live up to that expectation by fulfilling the aspirations of commoners. Fund is allocated for the larger benefit of people and they have every right to question Government if good and service is not provided to them. This new announcement will definitely be a milestone if implemented properly.

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