IASbhai Editorial Hunt
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.– Helen Keller
EDITORIAL 67:“An eye each on containment and welfare“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
Jagdeep S. Chhokar
Jagdeep S. Chhokar is a former Professor, Dean and Director In-charge of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad
MPLADS, its suspension, and why it must go
There are five reasons why the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme must be abolished
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2:3:Governance: Schemes
It must be said upfront that notwithstanding the fact that unilateral decision-making is inappropriate in a democracy, the decision to suspend MPLADS for two years is a good first step.Discuss -(GS 2)
Author has beautifully scripted why MPLAD Scheme is not a fruitful scheme on a longer run.
He digs out drawback , which does not give any ray of hope of its revival , Anyways lets dive in !
- All Opposition parties have been unanimous in their criticism of the government’s recent move to suspend the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for two years, approved by the Cabinet.
- The government’s reason is this: to use these funds “to strengthen the government’s efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of COVID-19 in the country”.
VIOLATION OF PRINCIPLES :
- SEPERATION OF POWER : Scheme violates one of the cardinal principles by permeates the entire Constitution: separation of powers.
- Simply put, this scheme, in effect, gives an executive function to legislators .
- UNABATED TRUTH : The argument that MPs only recommend projects, but the final choice and implementation rests with the district authorities is strange; there are hardly any authorities in the district who have the courage or the gumption to defy the wishes of an MP.
- IMPLEMENTATION: implementation of the scheme has always left much to be desired.
Expenditure incurred by the executing agencies being less than amount booked.
- Utilisation of funds between 49 to 90% of the booked amount;
- Though the scheme envisages that works under the scheme should be limited to asset creation,
- 549 of the 707 works test-checked (78%) of the works recommended were for improvement of existing assets;
- “The implementation of the scheme was marked by various shortcomings and lapses.
- These were indicative of the failure of internal control mechanisms in the department in terms of non-maintenance of records”.
GAPS IN UTILISATION :
- Wide variations in the utilisation of the MPLAD amount in various constituencies.
ACCORDING TO IndiaSpend REPORT
- 508 MPs (93.55%) did not, or could not, utilise the entire MPLADS amount from May 4, 2014 till December 10, 2018, in 4 years and 7 months.
- Only 35 MPs of the Lok Sabha utilised the entire amount of MPLADS during this period;
- Though ₹1,757 crore had been released for MPLADs, only ₹281 crore had been utilisedby all the 543 MPs till May 15, 2015.
GAPS IN UTILISATION :
- MPLADS being used to appease or oblige two sets of people: opinion-makers or opinion-influencers, and favourite contractors. Sometimes these two categories overlap.
- An often-heard tale is that of the contractor being a relative, close friend, or a confidant of the MP, and the contractor and the MP being financially linked with each other.
THE LEGALITY OR CONSTITUTIONALITY ISSUE :
- The constitutional validity of MPLADS was challenged in the Supreme Court of India in 1999, followed by petitions in 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2005.
- The combined judgment for all these petitions was delivered on May 6, 2010, with the scheme being held to be constitutional.
- With due respect to the top court, it must be said that the Court does not seem to have been able to appreciate the situation in totality.
- It seems to have placed an unquestioned trust in the efficacy of the scheme of implementation of MPLADS drawn up by the government without an assessment of the situation prevalent in the field, evidence of which is available in audit reports wherein gross irregularities and infirmities in implementation have been pointed out.
CASES OF MISUSE
- Reports of underutilisation and misutilisation of MPLADS funds continueto surface at regular intervals but there seems to have been no serious attempt to do anything about it till now.
- There are innumerable instances of misuse of these funds.