75 per cent of estimated cost will be released as first instalment

As part of an effort to ensure timely and effective implementation of works proposed under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme [MPLADS], the Centre has decided to substantially raise the amount to be released in the first instalment. The MPLADS allows MPs to suggest works to the Head of District to be taken up in their constituency.

Projects implemented by government agencies would now be provided 75 per cent of the project cost as the first instalment, while those implemented by non-governmental agencies would be provided 60 per cent, according to Union Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation M.S. Gill.

This decision, said Dr. Gill, would considerably improve the working of the Scheme as a whole. At present, only 50 per cent of the estimated cost is released as the first instalment, irrespective of the nature of the project, which led to complaints of delays in completion.

Conditions, he said, had been further relaxed for smaller projects costing less than Rs.2 lakh. For them, the entire amount would be released at one go.

Besides, in a bid to ensure that funds were not spread too thinly, no project costing less than Rs.1 lakh would be sanctioned.

Exceptions, however, would be made in the case of essential projects, such as installation of hand pumps, and purchase of computers and their accessories.

Emphasising that the Centre aimed at ensuring that the MPLADS funds were utilised fruitfully for the benefit of the grassroots, he said the basket of works that could be taken up under the scheme had been widened to include projects such as the purchase of books for libraries, and ambulances and hearse vans that would be owned and controlled by district authorities.

Likewise, the purchase of Microsoft Office software along with the training of two teachers per school would be now allowed as part of an effort to promote computer literacy in the country.

In addition, MPs would be allowed to spend up to Rs.10 lakh a year on projects in any State or Union Territory other than the one from where they were elected. “The aim is to promote national unity and fraternity among the people at the grassroots level.”

In an important departure from the past, a limit of Rs.50 lakh per annum has been imposed on contributions to trusts and societies so that more money was available for community-related works. The time frame for the sanction of works has also been raised to 75 days, considering that the district authorities had to go through a number of steps before sanctioning a project.

Further, all transfers of funds under the scheme would be made electronically and the web-based monitoring and reporting system would be revamped to provide for greater transparency.

The scope and extent of the physical monitoring of completed projects would also be expanded to cover 400 more districts, said Dr. Gill.

He said the next meeting of State-level nodal secretaries for the scheme would be held in the first week of July, and their views would be taken on how to improve the working of the scheme, particularly considering that the government recently announced a rise in the annual allocation under the scheme from Rs.2 crore to Rs.5 crore per MP. “A sum of about Rs.4,000 crore would now be available every year for developmental projects under the scheme, from about Rs.1,600 crore [earlier]. We want that the money is utilised in the best possible manner.”

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