MPLAD SCHEME

NOV 12

Mains   > Social justice   >   Welfare Schemes   >   Flagship schemes

IN NEWS:

  • Citing economic recovery, the Union Cabinet restored the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) that was suspended in April 2020.

WHAT IS MPLAD SCHEME?

  • Under the MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), each MP has the choice to suggest to the District Collector for works to the tune of Rs.5 Crores per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency.
  • It is a Central Sector Scheme
  • Who can recommend?
    • Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies
    • The Rajya Sabha Members can recommend works in one or more districts in the State from where he/she has been elected.
    • The Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select any one or more Districts from any one State in the Country for implementation of their choice of work under the scheme.
  • Implemented by:
    • The scheme is under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
    • District Collector/District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner is generally the District Authority to implement MPLADS in the district.
  • Non-Lapsable Funds
    • Funds released to the District Authority by the Government of India are non-lapsable.
    • Funds left in the district or not released by Government of India can be carried forward for utilization in subsequent years

GUIDELINES:

  • The sum can be spent only on creating permanent structures and not on perishables.
  • Out of Rs.5 crores, a M.P. shall recommend Rs 75 lacs for areas inhabited by S.C. population 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.
  • If a State does not have ST inhabited areas, this amount may be utilized in S.C. inhabited areas and vice-versa.
  • This scheme can also be converted into individual/stand-alone projects under the Central and State Government schemes provided they meet the eligibility conditions of MPLADS.

ISSUES:

  • Inefficient fund utilization:
    • There are wide variations in the utilisation of the MPLAD amount in various constituencies. As per report published in IndiaSpend:
      • 508 MPs (93.55%) did not utilise the entire MPLADS amount in the 4 years and 7 months between 2014 and 2018.
      • Only 35 MPs of the Lok Sabha utilised the entire amount of MPLADS during this period.
    • It is clear from the details above that most MPs use money under MPLADS quite haphazardly, and a significant portion of it is left unspent.
  • Against the doctrine of separation of powers:
    • The MPLADS scheme goes against the separation of powers as it allows individual legislators to encroach on the planning and implementation duties of the executive.
    • The 2nd ARC recommended its abrogation altogether, highlighting the problems of the legislator stepping into the shoes of the executive.
  • Weakens Panchayati raj system:
    • MPLADS encroaches upon the domain of local self-governing institutions and thereby violating the basic idea behind Part IX and IX-A of the Constitution.
  • Criticism over its purpose of introduction:
    • There was allegation that the scheme was introduced in 1993 >> to gain the support of MPs in coalition politics.
  • Implementation lapses:
    • The CAG has flagged instances of financial mismanagement and artificial inflation of amounts spent.
    • As per observations made by the CAG >> expenditure incurred by the executing agencies being less than amount booked
  • No statutory backing:
    • The scheme is not governed by any statutory law and is subject to the whims and fancies of the government of the day.
  • Lack of accountability:
    • The MPs have no accountability for the expenditure in terms of the quality and quantities executed against specifications.
    • The scheme was launched for promoting participatory development but there is no indicator available to measure level of participation.
  • Lack of creation of new assets:
    • As per observations made by the CAG, though the scheme envisages that works under the scheme should be limited to asset creation, 549 of the 707 works test-checked (78%) of the works recommended were for improvement of existing assets
  • Poor quality of work:
    • CAG report of 2019-20 >> use of lesser quantities of material than specified by contractors resulting in excess payments and sub-standard works under MPLADS projects.
  • Delays in issuing work orders
    • As per CAG report of 2019-20 >> delay in issuing work orders ranges from 5 to 387 days in 57% of the works against the requirement of issuing the work order within 45 days of the receipt of recommendation by the MP.
  • Inter-sectoral disparity:
    • Most recommended works under the scheme fall within the Roads and Bridges and Education sector, highlighting a huge disparity between the priority sectors.

  • Overlapping of work:
    • MPs of both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha have recommended works in the same district and of same nature. This has led to disproportionately large amount of money flowing into one district while other districts receive meagre amounts.
  • Corruption:
    • Money under MPLADS is often used to appease favourite contractors >> There are instances of contractor being a relative, close friend, or a confidant of the MP, and the contractor and the MP being financially linked with each other.

ARGUMENTS FOR CONTINUATION OF MPLADS:

  • Improved the role of individual MP
    • MPLADS is the only means for an MP to direct development resources to his constituency. It preserved the sense of direct responsibility for the well-being of constituents
  • Improvement in basic amenities:
    • Entire population across the country stands to benefit through the creation of durable assets of locally felt needs, namely drinking water, education, public health, sanitation and roads under the Scheme.
  • A vehicle for rural development:
    • Until 2017, nearly 19 lakh projects worth Rs 45,000 crore had been sanctioned under the MPLAD Scheme. 82% of the projects have been in rural areas
  • Upheld by Supreme Court:
    • Despite numerous petitions over the years, the constitutional validity of MPLADS was upheld by the court in 2010.
    • Supreme Court ruled that there was no violation of the concept of separation of powers because the role of an MP in this case is recommendatory and the actual work is carried out by the Panchayats and municipalities which belong to the executive organ.
  • Recovery from COVID-19:
    • The fight against COVID-19 is best fought at the State and local level. Restoring the scheme would help the legislators in this regard.

WAY FORWARD:

  • Undertake impact assessment:
    • For the scheme to be more effective, an impact assessment study should be undertaken at the constituency level, on a yearly basis, to assess the benefits of the works implemented to the community at large.
  • Make it lapsable:
    • To tackle the issue of large unspent balances which have accumulated and are rising over the years, fund can be made lapsable. This way funds lying unused can be put to other uses.
  • Enhance local level participation:
    • In order to better assess the needs of the constituents, surveys can be conducted across the constituency. For this purpose, NGOs and local community can be involved.
    • Implementing agencies could involve the local community in the voluntary supervision of works.
  • Ensure better coordination:
    • There is a need for greater co-ordination between MPs of a state on one hand and between MPs and nodal agencies on the other for selection of appropriate district for recommended works
  • Engaging private contractors:
    • The guidelines need to be amended to allow hiring of private contractors since government departments may lack necessary infrastructure for completion of works. This will ensure faster completion of works.
  • Recommendations by National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, 2002:
    • It recommended immediate discontinuation of the MPLAD scheme on the ground that it was inconsistent with the spirit of federalism and distribution of powers between the centre and the state.

BEST PRACTICE:

  • Kottayam model
    • Participatory planning has been used extensively, in Kottayam, Kerala to ascertain the genuine needs of the community with the help of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). The PRIs have assisted in planning the works and also ensured effective implementation and monitoring of the Scheme. The experience in Kottayam shows that participatory planning, with the aid of PRIs, can complement the MPLADS in order to bring about equitable development

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q. ‘Considering the undesirable outcomes of the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), it would be in order to completely abolish the scheme.’ Critically analyse?