New Delhi, Mar 1: The Rural Development Ministry is contemplating giving "matching grant" to enthuse MPs to adopt villages under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet scheme Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) following complaints of fund crunch.
"We are thinking providing some sort of mechanism like a matching grant. We will have to see if our ministry could provide grant matching the contribution made by the MPs," Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh told a press conference a day after the Union budget.
Singh said he would approach Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on the issue of providing "matching grant" to MPs. SAGY is a village development project launched by the Centre in October 2014, under which each Member of Parliament will take the responsibility of developing physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.
According to data available with the Ministry, only 34 of about 790 MPs from both Houses of Parliament have adopted villages in Phase-II of the scheme. In the first phase, 699 MPs had done so. When asked about the lukewarm response, Singh said the deadline for the second phase is October 2016 and one should wait till then.
A major complaint of the MPs has been that since the scheme has no earmarked funding, they find it difficult to implement it from the existing MPLAD fund or through local resource generation. The Ministry had recently written to all MPs, asking them to adopt a second village under the scheme.
However, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel opposed the scheme's expansion arguing that it has "fallen way short of expectations". The scheme aims at covering 2,500 villages by 2019.
Though it was launched on October 11, 2014, the implementation began only in June last year after deliberations and extensive discussions with sarpanches and chalking out of village development plans.
Some MPs from the Opposition had said it was a "flawed scheme that looks good on paper but whose implementation is flawed", an argument countered by the government. Under the scheme, both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs have to adopt three gram panchayats in five years where special attention will be given for undertaking development works and providing basic amenities.