To make the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) Scheme more effective, the central government is trying to tailor it to meet specific demands of different regions.
At present, the scheme is centralised and funds are allocated under specific heads, without any geographical discrimination.
Annually, a grant of Rs 5 crore is released to every MP, from both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, to carry out developmental works in his constituency (RS members may do so in the states they represent). Before April, this amount was Rs 2 crore annually.
However, MPs have often complained that their region had specific needs and the rules were not flexible enough to address these.
“For example, what is needed for the Andamans is entirely different than what is required in Uttar Pradesh. If funds are allocated uniformly, it does not get properly utilised and there isn’t adequate flexibility to MPs to use it,” said a senior official who is part of the process to change the rules.
Adding: “This (the change) has become all the more necessary as from April 1, every MP will get Rs 5 crore annually, which means annually almost Rs 4,000 crore will be given by the government to the MPs for development, as Parliament has 802 members.”.
He said a meeting of all state nodal officers for MPLADS had been called in the first week of July.
Some changes in the direction of more flexibility had already been made from this April. Earlier, MPs could sanction up to Rs 10 lakh in a year from the grant outside their state for works related to education and promotion of culture only. Now, they may sanction this sum for any purpose at all, anywhere outside. Also, earlier they could sanction up to 50 per cent of the grant in one go. Now, they may do so up to 60 per cent of the total in one go if the work is done through private agencies and up to 75 per cent if done through state agencies.
The new guidelines also allow MPs to contribute up to Rs 50 lakh in a financial year to trusts and societies. Earlier, it was Rs 25 lakh and nothing more ever to a single trust or society; that restriction has been removed.
To ensure that sanctioning of small amounts do not create unnecessary hindrance in completion of the work, the new guidelines also stipulated that any MP will not sanction a project or work less than Rs 1 lakh, except for purchase of hand pumps, solar electric lamps or chaupals.
The ministry of statistics and programme implementation (Mospi) is planning to monitor five major flagship programmes of the United Progressive Alliance government to ensure effective utilisation of funds.
Official sources said Mospi’s analyses will focus on the impact of such programmes at the ground level. “We have field officers and are willing to use them for this purpose,” an official said.
He said flagship programmes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, National Rural Health Mission, Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Indira Awaas Yojana and Integrated Child Development Services could be among those to be monitored.
The 2011-2012 Union Budget had allocated about Rs 100,000 crore towards these programmes.