Communist Party of India (Marxist) Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas slammed the Central Government for bringing in regressive modifications in the revised 2023 MPLADS- the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme, and said that this change will have far-reaching consequences on the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe population. The newly issued guidelines by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation are to be effective from April 1, 2023, and this will be the first comprehensive review of the scheme since 2016.
Speaking to ANI, Brittas said, “As per the existing guidelines, it was mandatory for all MPs to allocate 15 per cent and 7.5 per cent of the annual funds of 5 crores under Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for various development activities in areas predominantly inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and Scheduled Tribes population respectively. The Rajya Sabha MP said that the latest 2023 guidelines to a mere advisory clause so that it is no longer mandatory for MPs for compulsory allocation of funds.
“This obligatory condition has been tacitly converted in the latest 2023 guidelines to a mere advisory clause so that it is no longer mandatory for MPs for compulsory allocation of funds from MPLADS for SC and ST populations. This guileful dilution of the Scheme would be convenient to elude from the responsibility of allocation of funds to SC-ST populations” he added. Currently, MPLAD Scheme has been instrumental in the development of SC-ST inhabiting areas by undertaking various kinds of works like drinking water facilities, construction of roads, street lights, etc. Out of the 25 crores for an MP for five years under MPLADS, a mandatory allocation of 15 per cent for the SC population would come to 3.75 crores. Likewise, 7.5 per cent of the ST population would come to 1.875 Crores. The impact of the modification in the new guidelines can be scaled in light of these statistics.
“There is a high need to develop areas inhabited by Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in order to give special attention for infrastructure development of such areas. MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by ST population,” the 2016 guidelines read. CPI(M) Upper House MP has urged the Central Government to put partisan politics aside and to withdraw this unconscionable modification and to retain the extant provision as such.
“In order to give due attention to the development of infrastructure in the areas predominantly inhabited by Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, it shall be advisable for Members of Parliament to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the total MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas predominantly inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and at least 7.5 per cent of the total MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas predominantly inhabited by Scheduled Tribe population,” the new guidelines read. Brittas also criticised the Centre for excluding the Government aided institutions from the ambit of MPLADS. “This regressive decision will have far-reaching consequences for sectors like education where Government aided institutions play a crucial role,” he added.
Brittas cited the example of Kerala where aided institutions are bulwarks of educational advancement. “This retrograde step is taken even while private trusts can be considered for disbursement of funds under MPLADS,” he added.