It provides total cash awards of Rs.5 lakh for innovative ideas

On Friday, surprise took over suspense when the nation got swept by the ‘Modi’ wave and the State by ‘Lady’ (Jayalalithaa) wave much to the disappointment of ‘Daddy’(Karunanidhi).

But now that the din has settled to an extent, voters expect their new representatives in Parliament to get into serious business, especially with respect to utilising a sum of Rs.25 crore allotted to each of them over five years under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).

It was in 1993 that the MPLADS was introduced with an allocation of just Rs.5 lakh per MP.

But the very next year, it was increased to Rs.1 crore per annum. The amount was stepped up to Rs.2 crore in 1998 and to the present quantum of Rs.5 crore in 2011.

The Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation was given the responsibility of releasing the funds and formulating policies associated with the scheme.

In August 2012, the Ministry came out with the concept of ‘One MP-One Idea’ contest to be conducted in every parliamentary constituency.

The contest was aimed at inviting innovative solutions to problems in the areas of education and skills, health, water and sanitation, housing and infrastructure, agriculture, energy, environment, social service and so on. The Ministry made it clear that it should be open to all and could be participated both by individuals and institutions.

It also stated that a selection committee headed by the Collector and comprising eight members from various walks of life would scrutinise the entries and select top three for grant of cash awards of Rs.2.5 lakh, Rs.1.5 lakh and Rs.1 lakh respectively. The competition could be an annual affair and a grand function should be held every year for the prize distribution ceremony when, apart from cash awardees, five more contestants should be given certificates of appreciation by the MP concerned.

Though the competition was introduced in August 2012 and a circular issued to this effect to all Collectors in September 2012, the Ministry stated that the district administration concerned could announce the contest and call for entries only on receipt of a specific request made by the local MP since the total prize amount of Rs.5 lakh, and Rs.50,000 towards the conduct of prize distribution ceremony would be deducted only from his/her entitlement under MPLADS.

The basic idea behind the contest was to foster a spirit of innovation and grass-root level competitiveness, besides spurring an innovation movement by involving a large cross section of people. It was also aimed at involving society at large in finding sustainable and scalable solutions to problems faced by them and sharing it with the government authorities so that viable ideas could be put into practice for the benefit of people.

Hailing the idea of conducting such a contest, P. Balraj, a resident of Goripalayam, said it could be the best way to find cost-effective solutions to civic issues.

“Take for example, the traffic congestion at Goripalayam junction. The Corporation had announced construction of a flyover at a cost of Rs.70 crore. But some college students or even a layman might have an alternative idea. Such ideas would come to the fore if the local MP begins rewarding innovative thinking,” he added.

Stress on novel ideas

C. Selvam, a resident of Mattuthavani, said, “Ideas such as laying of plastic roads, which provide better durability than bitumen roads, could be promoted if contests such as ‘One MP-One Idea’ are conducted regularly and the ideas provided by people taken into consideration by government officials.”

Speaking to The Hindu over phone from Chennai, Madurai’s MP elect R. Gopalakrishnan said Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had called for a meeting on Sunday of all 37 newly elected MPs of the party and directed them to work honestly and truthfully for the people who had provided a massive victory to the party’s contestants.

“Therefore, I will make sure that every paise under the MPLADS is spent for the betterment of people in my constituency,” he added.

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