MPs and local development

Members of Parliament are allowed a definite amount from the state exchequer called Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for undertaking some developmental works in their respective constituencies or areas of preference. There is constitutional provision for this allocation. But at the sometimes there are several riders or a definite criteria for the utilization of the funds provided. Under prescribed rules, there are clear instructions for the respective State Governments of how the funds allotted to an MP are to be utilized and also accounted for. In particular, there are instructions that the district level authorities are primarily responsible for certification that the funds have been expended for genuine projects and purposes. The District Development Commissioner is the Nodal authority to endorse the utilizing of funds for particular project. They are responsible for monitoring and reporting on at least 10 per cent of the works undertaken. There is nothing like absolute freedom for the MPs to utilize their funds where they like and as they like.
However, in the case of our State, we will find on close examination that there is hardly any coordination worth the name between the Planning, Development and Monitoring Department and Nodal District Development Commissioners. The guidelines of MPLADS issued by the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation clearly state that the concerned State Government will assign monitoring of works to a department or a dedicated cell so as to ensure their timely completion. Moreover, the concerned State shall authorize its officers to inspect MPLADS works for ensuring quality. Looking into this matter retrospectively, it is regretted that the State Government has hardly made any attempt of implementing the guide lines issued by the concerned Union Ministry. It has not at any point of time received and forwarded the monitoring report from the District Development Commissioner who is the nodal authority for submission of inspection report. The State Government has never taken this task seriously.
This unfolds a serious flaw in the policy according to which allocations are made to the MPs and the purpose for which these allocations are made. The riders imposed by the donor agency and the criteria set forth for the utilization of the allocated funds clearly give the impression that the donor does not get rid of the doubt that funds may not be utilized for the purpose for which these are granted and in the manner in which these have to be expended. We do not think that there is any reality in nurturing such doubts. The fact is that Union Government wants assurance and certification that funds are utilized for precisely the purposes that are enumerated in the plan and that there is full scale involvement of the State Government in the developmental projects. It is unfortunate that the State Government is not taking this matter with seriousness as is evident from how it is soft paddling on the issue of monitoring. Nodal District Development Commissioners has not evolved any mechanism to ensure inspection of 10 percent of the works under implementation every year and they largely rely on the reports of the executing agencies despite the fact that it is only during physical verification that quality of the work can be checked. Moreover, the implementing agencies are not furnishing physical and financial progress of each work to the concerned district authorities every month despite the fact that much stress has been laid on this.
We want that the MPs should utilize the allocated funds prudently and on priority. The State Government may have hesitation to become a monitor of the work done for which the MPs has paid from the special funds provided to him or her by the parliament. We may suggest that the Parliament should devise a mechanism in which not the administrative machinery of the States but the MPs themselves shall have to be held responsible for failure to forward monitoring report and progress in the projects that are underway. Of course in the matter of identifying the projects of development the State Government will have its full say because it has to coordinate these activities with the district level developmental plans also.