The Telegraph
Thursday , April 3 , 2014
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Biggies falter on fund use over 5 years

The biggies have spent the least from their respective quota of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund in the 15th Lok Sabha.

Topping the list of big-shot MPs sitting on their local area development fund is Darbhanga MP Kirti Azad (39.58 per cent), followed by Patna Sahib MP Shatrughan Sinha (53.53), Patliputra MP Ranjan Prasad Yadav (57.08) and Bhagalpur MP Syed Shahnawaz Hussain (58.97) among others.

Several lesser-known faces, on the other hand, seemed to have fared well in terms of figures related to the MPLAD fund utilisation. For instance, BJP MP from Aurangabad, Sushil Kumar Singh, has utilised 101.62 per cent of his quota. Similarly, Uday Singh, the BJP MP from Purnea, has spent 103.51 per cent and has topped the list of 40 MPs in the state in utilisation of the MPLAD fund.

The worst performer is Prabhu Nath Singh, the RJD MP from Maharajganj constituency, followed by Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh, the JD(U) MP from Munger. Prabhu Nath, of course, did not get full term as he won the Maharjganj by-election last year.

Together, all the Lok Sabha MPs of Bihar have been able to spend 74.33 per cent of their MPLAD fund during the past five years. In total, Rs 656.50 crore was released by the Centre during the past four fiscal years, which Rs 487.98 crore was spent by the law-makers.

Most MPs, who have spent considerably less amount from their quota of MPLAD fund, have blamed the district authorities for the delay in utilisation of funds.

I recommended 461 schemes, out of which the district authority could float tenders for only 318 for which the Union government has already released Rs 19.25 crore. Even among the 318 schemes, the agreement could not be done with the selected firms in 200. A mere Rs 4.85 crore could be utilised from my quota of the MPLAD fund and only 48 schemes have been completed, said Kirti, adding that he had recommended installation of 209 transformers, out of which only 70 could be installed.

Dinesh Chandra Yadav, the JD(U) MP from Khagaria, also passed the buck to the district authorities. I had recommended Rs 25 crore, against which Rs 19.50 crore was sanctioned. But if the sanctioned funds could not be utilised well, then officials, including the district planning officer among others, are responsible for it, said Yadav.

The Union government launched the MPLAD scheme in 1993. Every MP is required to recommend development works to the district authority up to the annual entitlement limit. The funds are then sanctioned by the Centre and released to the respective district administration. The district magistrate

The MPLAD quota for each MP was Rs 2 crore per year during the first two years of this Lok Sabha, which was further raised to Rs 5 crore per year in 2011. Thus, in total, MPs could recommend Rs 19 crore (Rs 2 crore x 2 + Rs 5 crore x 3) under the local area development fund.

Residents, however, do not seem to be agreeing with the MPs claims. If the district authority was not executing the schemes properly then the same case is applicable to all MPs. If that was the case then how come many MPs have done over 70 per cent utilisation of their quota of MPLAD fund? Moreover, the accountability to the residents for under-utilisation of funds falls only on the MPs, said Ravi Parmar, a lawyer.