NEW DELHI: While the Centre on Monday decided to suspend Members of Parliament Local Area Development scheme for two years, several MPs have raised concerns that various development works underway in their respective constituencies may come to a grinding halt.
According to the Centre’s plan, MPLAD funds for two years worth Rs 7,900 crore will be diverted to the national pool to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the scheme, MPs execute developmental works spanning various sectors including roads, infrastructure, education, water and health. Preference is given to priority areas such as drinking water, public health, education, sanitation, roads, etc. Many MPs, including Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari of the Congress and RJD’s Manoj Jha, opposed the suspension of the scheme during 2020-21 and 2021-22.
“The Centre’s decision to cut salaries & pensions of MPs is welcome. It’s a good way for us to show solidarity w/people suffering across the country. But the Ordinance ending MPLADS funds for 2 years & pooling them into a Consolidated Fund run by the CentralGovt is problematic,” Tharoor tweeted.
He also wrote to PM Narendra Modi to reconsider the decision. Over 80% of the MPLAD fund is spent on infrastructure development of the constituency, nearly 10% go for education and only about 5% of the total fund is usually spent for health purposes.
In a series of tweets, Tharoor reasoned that the funds from MPLAD is used by an MP for development work in their constituency. And taking that away from them into a central fund will be detrimental to the needs of the constituencies. Sharing similar views, Tewari tweeted on similar lines.
Like Tharoor, Jha wrote to the Prime Minister contending the decision appears to be ill-advised.