MPLAD scheme is used more for non developmental projects instead of creating durable community assets.
Only 48 percent of funds under Member of Parliament Local Area Development scheme (MPLAD) have been used. Each Member of Parliament (MP) in Bengaluru received Rs 12 crores in 2018-2019, of which around Rs. three crores have been used as per data presented by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
Karnataka Public School (KPS), Basavanagudi in Bangalore south is a beneficiary of MPLAD scheme. However, delay in release of funds under the scheme and huge gaps between the first installment and second installment has halted the progress of development projects of the school.
G. Naganna, Principal of KPS said, “The school was adopted by Tejasvi Surya under MPLAD. It was decided to build a chemistry lab, one more floor and more toilets for the high school under the MP quota. However, work has not started yet. Fund supply is irregular; because of this the speed of work is very slow.”
KPS got Rs 10 lakhs funds under the scheme in 2021 – 22, after a gap of six years. They had received Rs. two lakhs in 2015 – 16.
Kusumavathi, Head Mistress, KPS Primary School said, “In between, we did not receive any funds under the MP quota. Therefore, we have not even completed the construction of a single bore well for the last six years. The funding that we receive is going towards sanitation and cleanliness of toilets and repairing work.”
However, the toilets remained dirty and the girls’ toilet was locked. Further, the water supply in school is erratic as well.
Suhana, an eighth standard student from KPS said that she uses the boys’ toilet because the girls’ toilet is locked for more than two years. Inside the boys’ toilets, there are two separate washrooms used by girls.
Laxmi, mother of Isha (name changed), a student of KPS said that parents have complained to the head mistress of the primary school about dirty toilets and asked them to provide a separate toilet for girls. But, no action has been taken on their complaint.
Prathap, Kanagal Janata Dal (secular) spokesperson said, “MPLAD scheme is not functioning properly in the city. They show 100 percent allocation of funds but the actual release of funds is less than 40 percent.” He added that the central government does not release funds frequently especially when an MP is from another party. Previously, MPs of JD(s) faced difficulties in getting funds under the scheme.
Hitech blood sampling test lab in the Government Maternity Hospital, NR Colony was inaugurated by Tejasvi Surya from the funds received under the MPLAD scheme in September 2022.
Dr. Anupama, Assistant Medical Officer, Government Maternity Hospital said, “We are running the lab with only one machine. Five machines were promised; we only received two machines. And one of the machines has stopped working. Before installations we did not know the specifications of those machines. And we even do not know how much these machines cost. We did not get any bill.”
She added that the hospital has requested the MP, Bangalore South to install more machines. However, their requests were not answered.
MG Mahesh, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) Spokeperson said, “Our government is doing fine in this direction. This scheme is very important as far as elections are concerned. Through this scheme, an MP gets a chance to work for their constituency. People of that constituency can know their MPs through MPLAD. Our MPs are doing great job in this direction.” Tejasvi Surya’s team said that he has started giving funding to different projects chosen under the MPLAD scheme.
PC Mohan, MP of Bangalore Central had decided to build an anganwadi in 2019 under the MPLAD scheme in Ramchandrapuram area. However, no work has been done so far in this direction.
Ruchita, Child Development officer, Bangalore said that funds have not been disbursed yet. However, the office of MP PC Mohan has promised to release funds soon.
PC Mohan said, “We are doing great in MPLAD. We allocate the maximum of our funds to social and health infrastructure. Sometimes work gets delayed because of delay in disbursements from the union government but we never stop our work.”
However, the majority of funds have been allocated to construct and install Reverse Osmosis (RO) water purifiers. As per the guidelines for MPLAD scheme, funds should be used for developmental projects involving education sector, water supply and building shelters, among others. Experts believe that constructing ROs does not come under developmental projects. Permissible works under the MPLAD scheme are public infrastructure, education, health and construction of roads among others.
In Bangalore North, only nine percent of expenditure under the MPLAD scheme has gone to the health and education sector. The rest of the funds are allocated to infrastructure and other activities.
Secretary to DV Sadananda Gowda, MP of Bangalore North said, “After COVID-19, they have not started any project under the MPLAD scheme. But we always use funds to provide infrastructure facilities in our constituency.”
Congress spokesperson Anand Prasad said that the central government is reluctant to release funds under the MPLAD scheme. The disbursal of funds has been reduced approximately by 50 percent. The MPLAD scheme has taken a back seat under the rule of BJP. He also mentioned that the government suspended the scheme during COVID-19. This stopped all projects sanctioned under the scheme.
The MPLAD scheme was introduced in 1993 to enable MPs to undertake development projects in their constituency. The emphasis is on creation of durable community assets. Under the scheme, an MP is entitled to spend Rs five crore annually. An audit report by CAG in 2021 showed that the grant to the Ministry of Statistics was increased due to suspension of MPLAD during COVID-19 by the Ministry of Finance. It highlighted the financial mismanagement under the scheme. The total amount of Rs 10,917 crores has been released under the MPLAD scheme.
The data by the Ministry of Statistics show that in Bangalore South only 55 projects have been completed out of 150 sanctioned between 2015 and 2022. In Bangalore Central, 138 projects have been completed out of the total sanctioned for the same period. The data alsoshows that education and health are the least favorable sectors for MPs to provide funds for.
DR. S Y Surendra Kumar, professor of Political Science, Bangalore University said, “MPs misuse these funds. They allocate funds in constructing bus stands like the one in Sita circle and now they are constructing another bus stand out of MPLAD funds. It is a clear misuse of funds because they are supposed to use them to improve education, health and public infrastructure.”
He further mentioned that the fault lies in the Union Government because it does not allocate enough funds for the scheme. Also, during COVID-19 the funds were transferred to the PM Cares fund. The PM Cares fund is out of the scope of auditing by the CAG. Otherwise, those funds would have been used by the MPs to support developmental projects during COVID-19. Stopping the MPLAD scheme undermines the financial decentralization of funding local development projects.
However, he said that the scheme should not be scrapped altogether because it reduces the delay caused by the process of MPs demanding funds from the union and state governments. Through this they can actually bring development to their constituencies. But, there should be a statutory body to implement the scheme in order to reduce any kind of financial mismanagement.