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Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
Inside Barmer

A Spooky Explosion In Jasol

A Spooky Explosion In Jasol
A Spooky Explosion In Jasol
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Stranger still has been a revelation since I moved here last year. And that relates to the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (mplads). The national press has been panning this scheme since its inception during Narasimha Rao's time. I too had images of MPs handing out dodgy funds from the scheme to cohorts. But if there's one development scheme that is difficult to corrupt, it's this. It comes with the most inflexible guidelines and the image of a sleazy MP signing away funds is a figment of the imagination of some in Delhi. Other than recommending a certain amount for a school, health centre, pipeline or some such public work, the MP has little else to do with the funds. The recommendation then goes to the district authorities who check the project's applicability vis-a-vis the guidelines.No funds can be allotted to a place of worship, nor can they be sanctioned along caste lines.
This is one scheme an MP can turn to for development work if his party is not in power in the state. Control over the district administration emanates from political power in the state and that determines how various funds are utilised. If the MP's recommendation abides by the guidelines, no district administration, however partisan, can stop its implementation. Party affiliations can slow down the pace of work but can't change it. The guidelines, I repeat, are inflexible on the nature of work and the channel of authority. Only public works can be sanctioned and the construction agency is the ubiquitous pwd. If the MP so recommends, the work can be given to a panchayat. That saves some money but could be the only outlet for corruption in this scheme. But then the guidelines also declare that at any site where money from mplads has been utilised there shall be a board placed, detailing the nature of work, amount sanctioned and the completion date. The quality of work is then directly associated with the recommending MP! The catch is in the recommending and sanctioning and it is all in the guidelines. Little wonder then that this scheme has the largest amount of funds which lapse on account of underutilisation. That should be evidence enough of insufficient avenues for corruption! Like a number of Narasimha Rao's scheme this too gets panned for the wrong reasons. n

(The writer stood for elections as the bjp candidate in Barmer, Rajasthan. He now works full-time in the constituency and is writing a column on life and development issues in Barmer.)

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