The Union Cabinet has restored the MPLAD scheme that was suspended in April 2020. However, the MP’s will get rupees 2 crore instead of the annual approved ₹ 5 crore.
In April 2020 government decided to direct the fund of the MPLAD under the Ministry of Finance to meet the emergency situation posed by Covid19, for the financial year 2020-2021- 2021-2022.
The fund has been utilized to improve the health infrastructure ,provide free ration under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and free vaccination to the people.
What is MPLAD scheme?
The MPLAD scheme came into existence in 1993 to enable MP’s to recommend development work in their constituencies with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the local needs.
In the beginning, the scheme was under the control of the Ministry of Rural Development and Planning, later in 1994 the scheme was transferred to the Ministry of Statics and Programme Implementation.
Each year MP gets rupee 5 crores in two installments (currently reduced to ₹ 2crores). The fund is non- lapsable.
The members of Lok Sabha can recommend works in their respective constituencies.
The Rajya Sabha members who are elected can recommend work anywhere in the state from which they are elected.
The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members who are nominated may choose to work for implementation anywhere in the country.
Every year MPs are required to recommend works costing at least 15 percent of the MPLADS funds for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 percent for Schedule Tribe population.
Newly added area:
As per the ‘Guidelines on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)’ published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation in June 2016, the MPLAD funds can be used for the implementation of the schemes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), conservation of water through rain water harvesting and Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana.
Significance of the scheme :
Nearly 19 lakh projects worth ₹ 45,000 crore had been sanctioned under the MPLAD scheme until 2017.
The creation of the assets has been reported to be of good quality that had a positive impact on the ‘local economy, social fabric and feasible environment’, by the Third party evaluators appointed by the government.
Nearly 82% of the projects have been implemented in rural areas and remaining in urban and semi urban areas.
Owing to its significance the central government in 2018 approved the continuation of the scheme stating that “the entire population across the country stands to benefit through the creation of durable Assets as per locally felt needs namely drinking water, education ,public health sanitation etc” under MPLAD scheme.
Concerns related to MPLAD scheme:
Lack of statutory backing, since it is not backed by any statutory law which makes it subjective to the whims of the government of the day.
Violation of federalism, the scheme interferes in the domain of the local self governing Institutions thereby violating part IX and IX- A of the Constitution.
Implementation lapses- CAG has raised instances of financial mismanagement and artificial inflation of amount spent.
The scheme is alleged to be marred by the nexus of MP’s and private firms.
It raises the issue of conflict with separation of power as MP’s are getting involved in executive functions.
In 2002 , the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution recommended immediate discontinuation of the MPLAD scheme stating that it was inconsistent with the spirit of federalism and distribution of powers between centre and state.
2nd Administrative Reforms Commission report 2007 too suggested for its discontinuation.
Question of Constitutionality of the scheme:
A 5 judge bench of Supreme Court in 2010 upheld the constitutionality of the scheme stating –
The functions of the MP’s are limited to recommendations of the work and the actual work is done by the local authorities thereby it does not violate separation of power.
Additionally India has a quasi federal nature of the Constitution , and the purpose of the scheme is to fulfill the development and the welfare of the state which resonates with the spirit of Directive Principle of State Policy.
Though the constitutionality of the MPLAD scheme is upheld but the concerns of its implementation remains, which can be improved by;
Making the fund lapsable can put pressure on the MP for its better utility.
Better transparency and accountability is needed to ensure its effective implementation.
The increased citizens’ inclusiveness and monitoring along with the political will can make this scheme a tool of welfare and development.