Tamil Nadu

Dharmapuri Collector caught in a row over withdrawal of ₹1 crore from MPLADS Funds

Dharmapuri Collector S. Malarvizhi is caught in a row over withdrawing ₹1 crore from the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Funds (MPLADS) without consent from DMK MP P. Senthil Kumar, for 2019-20.

On March 24, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation had issued a circular allowing MPs to contribute from the MPLADS 2020-21 account exclusively for interventions to government hospitals to combat COVID-19.

Following this, Dr. Kumar wrote to the Collector on March 26 authorising ₹1 crore for the purchase of medical equipment for Dharmapuri Government Medical College Hospital and ₹20 lakh for Mettur Government Hospital.

However, on April 8, the Central Government announced freezing of the MPLAD funds for 2020-21, and 2021-22. Consequently, the administrative sanction for MPLADS funds in their respective constituencies stood cancelled.

Hence, Dr. Kumar, on April 12 wrote to the Collector, seeking cancellation of administrative sanction of funds for the two hospitals. While the Collector thereafter issued a cancellation letter for the ₹20 lakh sanctioned for Mettur hospital, she did not do so in respect of the ₹1 crore for Dharmapuri Hospital. In another letter dated April 29, Dr. Kumar had reminded the Collector about the cancellation of sanction for funds.

“How were the funds (₹1 crore) used? No other MP has faced this problem except here. All the collectors had cancelled administrative sanction, except this collector, who chose to use funds without my approval from the previous year,” charged Dr. Kumar.

The MP, who inspected the Dharmapuri hospital, said, “The Dean and the Joint Director (Health) do not know of any funds. So, where did my funds go? If any purchases were made, they should put it up stating that they were made from the MPLAD funds.”

Responding to the allegations of unauthorised use of the MPLADS funds, Collector Malarvizhi, through a press release from the Collectorate, claimed the MP’s approval letter for ₹1 crore did not specify the year of the MPLADS funds.

However, the letter itself had cited the Ministry’s circular that had highlighted the year as 2020-21 and not 2019-20 for COVID combat.

Defending the use of the funds after the approval was rescinded and from the account of a year for which there was no approval from the MP, Ms Malarvizhi cited guidelines from the MPLADS guidebook. It said: “Work site shall not be changed without the concurrence of the MP, however no change shall be allowed once work had commenced and expenditure liability incurred.”

However in this case, in less than 10 days of the approval, the Central government had frozen the accounts from which the funds were to be used. Hence it remains unclear as to how the funds were withdrawn and used.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 9:21:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/dharmapuri-collector-caught-in-a-row-over-withdrawal-of-1-crore-from-mplads-funds/article32587925.ece

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