Citing economic recovery, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday restored the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) that was suspended in April 2020 subsuming the funds for the scheme in the consolidated fund of India.
The scheme was suspended for two financial years (2020-21 and 2021-22) but the Government on Wednesday announced a partial rollback. The MPs will get ₹2 crore instead of the annual approved ₹5 crore.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said, “I am happy to state that since we are on the road to economic recovery, with many sectors reporting a positive growth, the Union Cabinet has decided to restore the MPLAD Scheme for the remaining part of the financial year 2021-22.”
When the suspension was announced last year, the Government had claimed that ₹8,000 crore that would have otherwise been spent under the scheme will go to the consolidated fund of India and will be used for fighting the pandemic.
Opposition leaders pointed out that the Government so far has not given a record of how it spent the savings from suspending the scheme for a year.
Comment | In defence of MPLADS
DMK’s Rajya Sabha member P. Wilson pointed out that the Centre, by way of suspending the MPLAD Scheme, withheld funds for the States during the peak of pandemic when they were battling with financial strain themselves. “Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha MPs and 18 Rajya Sabha members. So the State, through the MPLAD funds, is to get ₹285 crore annually. This is the money that the Union Government pocketed,” he said.
Senior RJD leader Manoj K Jha said the Government should come up with a detailed account of how it used the money saved by suspension of MPLAD funds. “The Government should bring in a White Paper without any shade. The question is how was this money spent and how exactly did it help during the pandemic,” he said. During the pandemic, public representatives who got direct feedback from the ground could have done a better work in helping the people using this money, Mr. Jha added.
Fully funded by the Government of India. the objective of the MPLAD Scheme is to enable MPs to recommend development works. Each MP is entitled to ₹5 crore that is released in two instalments after close scrutiny by the Union Government.
Since the inception of the scheme, a total of 19,86,206 works/projects have been completed with the financial implication of ₹54,171.09 crore.