Taxpayers money provided to Indian Members of Parliament for public interest works has been used to benefit religious organisations, individual government officers and has also been mis-appropriated, a government study of 135 constituencies has revealed.
Each Member of Parliament is provided Rs two crore every year to carry out works for direct benefit of people such as constructing of well or repair of roads but the study by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has confirmed fears of many planners that the funds are misused.
In Chandrapur district in Maharashtra, the district collector given the responsibility under MPLAD rules to ensure proper use of money spent it on constructing a waiting room and then building a conference room in his own office. In Osmanabad district of the state, the collector bought computer and printers for the money meant to be used provide basic families to people, such as digging a well or constructing a village road.
The 80-page report is full of instances (see graphic) where MPs have allocated huge amount of money to private bodies including temples and churches to develop their infrastructure. For instance, in Vodadora district in Gujarat, a community hall was constructed at Tulsi Vadi Rookadeya Hanuman Temple whereas in Mangalore in Karnataka the money was used to build a press club.
The report also highlighted where money from the MPLAD fund has been released on basis of forged documents. In Andhra Pradesh, money from fund of Lok Sabha MP B J Lakshmi was released on basis of forged letter of the MP. In Bijnore district of Uttar Pradesh, huge funds have been misappropriated allegedly on basis of forged letters in 2009. State government has taken action against official responsible but the money has not been recovered.
Even the money provided from MPLAD scheme for natural disasters such as Tsunami in 2004, Gujarat earthquake and floods in Bihar has been utilised fully. "The state (Gujarat) has failed to furnish reply on details of unspent amount of Rs nine crore given for Gujarat earthquake," the report said. Half of Tsunami work in Andaman and Nicobar Islands has been left incomplete.
Admitting of huge shortcoming in the implementation of the scheme, Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation Sriprakash Jaiswal said, "we have asked the state governments to recover the misused money from district collectors and take action against officials responsible for the frauds committees." But at the same time, the ministry is considering change in rule to allow MPs to sanction money for private trusts and societies, in which they or their family members have no direct relation.
The report comes at the time when MPs are demanding an increase in their fund from Rs two crore to five crore, which Planning Commission is not willing to provide citing shortage of plan funds. Since the inception of the scheme in 1990, Rs 21,400 crore has been released of which 90 per cent has been spent.