SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I L B A G

MPLAD scheme must go

The editorial “Scrap MPLADS” (Feb 19) rightly suggests Parliament to wind up the MPs’ Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) as recommended by the Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Mr M. Veerappa Moily in its latest report, Ethics in Governance. This scheme has remained mired in controversy since its inception and the malaise has spread to municipal corporations across the country, involving a whopping Rs 15,000 crore.

Several other committees had also called for the abolition of the scheme. One cannot lose sight of the corrupt practices in this scheme in a string operation. The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has also upheld Parliament’s right to disqualify members who were caught accepting bribes in the sting operation.

Unspent money under this scheme by MPs and MLAs and favouritism in sanctioning the funds are the other maladies. Examples galore, some MPs have diverted the entire fund meant for eight or nine Assembly segments to just one or two for political mileage.

The scheme also circumvents the spirit of the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs). To make use of the taxpayers’ money judiciously, the scheme needs to be scrapped. Let the crores of rupees allocated under this scheme be saved and utilised for actual development.

S.K. KHOSLA, Chandigarh


 

II

The editorial rightly endorses the Moily Committee’s recommendation for abolishing this generally abused fund. The highlight of the editorial, however, is the sincere suggestion that this scheme should be scrapped by Parliament without waiting for the judgement of the Supreme Court Constitution Bench on the issue.

Otherwise, our legislatures would cry hoarse and would call the judgement another intrusion into their domain by the court, which often is forced to step in to safeguard the basic structure of our Constitution.

BALVINDER, Chandigarh

III

I agree with the well considered view that the MPs’ and MLAs’ Local Area Development Schemes need to be scrapped as they are inconsistent with the spirit of federalism and militate against the demarcation of responsibilities between the legislature and executive.

These schemes are always underutilised and a root cause of corruption in many spheres. The members do not keep track of the funds spent and unutilised. Thousands of crores of rupees are allocated for development schemes to make our elected representative corrupt in the name of public good.

People sincerely wish that such schemes should be immediately withdrawn and the funds must be judiciously spent on development.

Dr S. K. AGGARWAL, Amritsar

IV

The Moily committee has called for the abolition of the schemes for MPs and MLAs on three grounds - they create conflict of interest that arises when legislators take up executive roles; they infringe on the rights of the local governments; and they divert funds which should have actually gone to PRIs.

However, the schemes are very significant mode of bringing about rural development along with generating employment and poverty eradication. In a democratic framework, the public representatives feel the need for discretionary public funds at their disposal to quickly execute public works to satisfy the needs of their constituencies.

These are not absolutely “discretionary” schemes, rather there is a whole lot of accountability norms in-built into the schemes. They enable MPs and MLAs to quickly disburse the money for meeting many an expenditure on physical and socio-economic infrastructure. Numerous amounts of tanks, ponds, retaining walls, schoolrooms, public paths, drainage paths etc. have been built under the schemes to the benefit of the community.

Moreover, these schemes are already implemented through the PRIs. To think of leakages and corruption in the schemes to be another ground for abolishing them, is myopic because leakages can occur anywhere. Because of the all-encompassing benefits to society at large, these schemes should not be abolished.

The challenges in successfully implementing the above schemes with utmost efficiency should be converted into opportunities to unleash new chapters of all-round development.

ABHISHEK JAIN, IAS ADC, Kullu (HP)

Hold the price line

It has become very difficult for the common man to make both ends meet because of the hefty increase in the prices of essential commodities. Even onions have become out of reach of the poor, not to speak of wheat, dals and oil (Editorial, “Price rise is worrying”, Feb 12).

The salaried class too is facing problems because there is no increase in their income. The Centre should strive to take care of the interests of all sections instead of boasting about its achievements. I endorse the suggestion for a national debate on how to sustain and escalate the present momentum of growth while making it more inclusive.

SUBHASH C. TANEJA, Rohtak

Gender bias in Army

The news item, “Biggest gender bias suit” in the US history (Feb 8) prompts me to write that the Government of India also does not lag behind in this race. There is sexual discrimination in the selection of officers by the Indian Army for the WSES (O) Technical course. The Indian Army is maintaining gender bias in the age criteria for selection of women officers in the technical cadre.

The prescribed age limit for the 105th Technical Graduate Course and 29th Short Service Commission (Technical) Course for men commencing in July and October 2007 is 20 to 27 years. This is extremely discriminatory.

If these days, the government’s trend is to encourage women to join the armed forces, the gender bias at least in age criteria between the two sexes needs to be abolished. The Government of India should explain the reasons to the general public for disfavouring women candidates by creating bias in the age limit for the two sexes.

ANAMIKA VASHISHT, Panchkula

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