CIC wants break-up of how MPLADS funds are utilized

Noting that ₹12,000 crore of the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) funds remains unspent, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman to come out with a legal framework to ensure its transparency and hold parliamentarians and political parties accountable for their obligations under the scheme.

MoSPI report showed that in February 2018, funds allotted to MPLADS but unspent stood at ₹4,773.13 crore, while 2,920 installments of ₹2.5 crore were yet to be released. That resulted in a total backlog of ₹12,073.13 crore.

The framework should make transparency a legal obligation, with all MPs and parties required to present the public and Parliament with a comprehensive report on the number of applications received for their constituency, works recommended, works rejected with reasons, the progress of works and details of beneficiaries.

Liabilities for any breach of duties should also be imposed. Further, the framework should prohibit and prevent MPs from using the funds for their private works, or diverting them to private trusts or to their own relatives.

District administrations must provide regular information — work-wise, MP-wise, and year-wise details on progress — which are to be compiled by the MoSPI and made available to the public.

It was launched in December 1993, to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for the creation of durable community assets and for the provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.

Works under the scheme: Works, developmental in nature, based on locally felt needs and always available for the use of the public at large, are eligible under the scheme. Preference under the scheme is given to works relating to national priorities, such as the provision of drinking water, public health, education, sanitation, roads, etc.

Funds are released in the form of grants-in-aid directly to the district authorities. The funds released under the scheme are not-lapsable. The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.

The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme. They recommend their choice of works to the concerned district authorities who implement these works by following the established procedures of the concerned state government. The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritize works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.

The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies. The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected. Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.

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