The Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) has launched a novel initiative for convergence of MPs, MLAs, and members of local bodies for executing comprehensive development schemes in each Assembly segment.
Taking a cue from the interventions made by T.M. Thomas Isaac and C. Ravindranath for supporting the local bodies’ endeavours for development in their Assembly segments, KILA has worked out a strategy for convergence of elected representatives at different strata and pooling their assistance for bridging the critical fund gaps in development and welfare activities.
KILA director P.P. Balan told The Hindu that local bodies had so far been restricting the role of MLAs and MPs to attending the inauguration of new schemes and projects. By setting the ground for playing a complementary role, MLAs and MPs can also contribute their mite for major projects of local bodies. Initially, it is being experimented with the MLAs.
The MLA as well as local body representatives of his segment are invited to the institute for a creative discussion on various development issues and challenges at the grassroots level. The institute lays down broad guidelines for the discussion so that the municipal councillors as well as panchayat members will not be bogged down to micro-level issues. The thrust will be on macro-level issues covering various panchayats and municipalities in each Assembly segment. Rather than discussing projects which cater to a ward, a panchayat or a municipality, composite projects which cater to several local bodies are taken up for group discussion and the problems in executing them are detailed out in the presence of the MLA.
This provides an opportunity for local body representatives to air the shortcomings as well as hassles in embarking on novel ventures which demand considerable amount of funds and also clearances at various levels. This includes the hiccups in getting Central assistance, execution of Centrally sponsored schemes as well as key approvals from government agencies for timely completion of projects. On getting a clear idea about the functional challenges being faced by the local bodies, the MLA can discover his scope for intervention.
The ultimate aim is to make the MPs and MLAs share at least a small component from their fund for local area development. Each MP has Rs.5 crore and MLA Rs.1 crore. In addition an MLA gets Rs.5 crore for asset creation in his constituency.
The new platform for convergence has helped to evolve joint development ventures involving two or three panchayats as well as municipalities. Ramesh Chennithala, former Speaker K. Radhakrishnan, James Mathew, Purushan Kadalundy, and P.C. Vishnunath have already participated in the discussions with local body representatives in their segments.