Explain utilisation of denied MPLADS fund: Opposition

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on July 10, 2020

Senior Congress MP Manish Tewari   -  PTI

The delay in forming the Parliamentary ad hoc panel in the Lok Sabha on Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) and the Centre’s decision to delay funds for already approved projects under the scheme have irked MPs, especially those in the Opposition. They have also asked the Centre to explain what it was going to do with about ₹6,000 crore by cutting the funds.

They have urged the Centre to immediately constitute the MPLADS committee, usually headed by the Deputy Speaker, and convene an urgent meeting of the Rajya Sabha panel on the fund, chaired by Deputy Chairman Harivansh. The panel used to oversee implementation of the guidelines set by the Supreme Court and the Department of Programme Implementation for running the scheme. The last meeting of the Rajya Sabha panel was held in February, when the House was in session. The Lok Sabha is yet to elect a Deputy Speaker.

Senior MPs have raised objections and said MPLADS could have been used effectively to combat Covid-19. Cuttack MP and senior BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab set up a Covid hospital and a state-of-the art testing facility in his constituency using the fund.

‘Not an entitlement’

“The Government decided to withdraw MPLADS using their own wisdom. It was not an entitlement. But there are reports by the MPLADS panel that said projects under this scheme could be completed much earlier than the other government projects under planned fund. In Cuttack, I used the allocation from last year to create health infrastructure to fight this pandemic. MPLADS could have been used for the welfare of people at this hour of crisis,” Mahtab said. Senior Congress MP Manish Tewari said “The constitutionality of the scheme was upheld by the Supreme Court. Not only did they suspend MPLADS for next two years, this Government hasn’t paid the second instalment of the previous year. We passed a budget of over ₹32 lakh crore. The only expenditure rationalisation the Government has done is stopping of MPLADS, which is about ₹3,900 crore across 750 MPs for one year.”

Senior CPI(M) MP and member of the Rajya Sabha MPLADS panel K Somaprasad demanded that a meeting of the panel be convened urgently. “We have committed a number of projects under last year’s MPLADS. Now the Centre has abruptly stopped it and denied funds for ongoing projects, which were started after a commitment that money will be provided,” he said.

He added that if the pending amount is added, the total allocation could have been ₹6,000 crore for 2020-21. “This money should have gone to combat the Covid crisis and problems of the working people such as migrant labourers. The Centre must explain what did they do with this fund,” he added.

Published on July 10, 2020

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