Union Minister of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) Srikant Jena, as if in a farewell gift, has granted “absolute freedom’’ to his fellow MPs in implementing the MPLADs (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme). Jena’s liberalisation which carries potential for massive corruption has come at a time when the MPLADS is already under the CAG scanner for ‘’irregularities’’ in its implementation.
As per the new liberal norms, it will not be mandatory to invite tenders for implementing a project or a scheme anymore. Any work can be assigned to any agency or an NGO just like that with the only rider being that it should have “national reputation.’’ This is being done despite the fact that CAG in its latest report had pointed out several violations of guidelines and irregularities in the implementation of MPLADS scheme during 2004-05 to 2008-09.
Another decision with equal potential for corruption is the new provision that allows MPs to allot up to Rs 1 crore to any trust or society for executing works under the MPLAD scheme. The MoSPI had earlier imposed a restriction that society or a trust would not be able to seek more than Rs 50 lakh from MPLAD in its life-time as there were reports of irregularities involving the kith and kin of MPs. But now that restriction is gone and MPs can allocate Rs 1 crore from their annual MPLAD funds which would come around Rs 5 crore.
This decision could lead to drastic corruption. Anybody, including an MP’s family member, can form a trust or an NGO and can get these Rs 1 crore every year. ‘’There have already been instances of new trusts or societies being formed every year to get public money from the MP. Now that will only increase,’’ said a source within the Ministry.
Another decision with equal potential for corruption is that the new clause that MPLADs funds can be used for works in private lands.