E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a very popular scheme among all MPs irrespective of the party or caste they belong to.
Under the scheme introduced by the P.V. Narasimha Rao government in 1993, each MP has Rs 2 crore per annum at his disposal, to spend on projects in his or constituency. The money is not directly given to the MP, but routed through the deputy comissioner or district collector.
Naturally lads will be lads, and MP lads being more so, they happily squander the pocket money the way they want and routinely end up short. Result: there is now a proposal to hike the MPLADS allocation to Rs 5 crore per annum.
There is a ministry of statistics and programme implementation which keeps tabs on the activities of MPLADS and how the money doled out by the government is used, abused or misused.
I had a chance to meet the Programme Implementation Group (PIG) chief who was quite earnest to talk on the subject.
“I am glad there is at least one organisation to keep a check on the drain of funds from MP quarters.”
“MPLADS has many subsets not many are aware of. There is a Members of Parliament Kickback India Development scheme (MPKIDS). Here the junior MPs, basically kids, are initiated by seniors as to how the system works. It is here they take up projects such as construction of bus stand, drinking water taps in slum areas, autorickshaw stand etc. Poor MPs have to give massive kickbacks to contractors to get the projects going,” elaborated the PIG head.
“No doubt it’s heart rending to see MPs go through such hardship,” I empathised.
“Another subset of MPLADS is Member of Parliament Fabrication, Underutilization and Nexus Development (MPFUND). Here the money involved is much more as there is a lot of fabrication involved in material or books. Underutilization is a must here and this is where politics and business meet, what we call Nexus Development. MPFUND needs money anywhere from Rs 5 crore to Rs 100 crore to see some real development. Right now they will make do with Rs 5 crore. But I am sure the finance department and PMO’s office will see the plight of MPs and double the amount every year so that there is a comfortable operating level of at least Rs 100 crore for each MP.”
“I am so happy for the info. Is there any other info you would like to share?”
“For smaller projects they use terms such as MPSYPHONS or MPJUICERS but these are for projects less than Rs one crore which they get as routine.”
“One last question, Sir. How do MPs get such huge amounts of money at such short notice in the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha?” I asked.
“We call this MPQUICKFIX. We are not sure how this works. But we should be able to solve this by the time they are ready to table currency bundles next time,” concluded the PIG head.