Amritsar Member of Parliament and deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana would “not succeed” in the absence of a “dedicated fund” to be used exclusively for the overall development of villages adopted MPs across the nation.
“My suggestion to the PM is that his government must create a dedicated fund under the scheme for distribution among villages adopted for development by the MPs in their respective constituencies. Grants from this fund can be distributed either equally among all adopted villages or given in accordance with the developmental schemes drawn up by villages,” he observed while talking to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of a function here.
Amarinder handed over a cheque for `5 lakh from his Member Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund to Dilraj Singh Sarkaria, sarpanch of Dhaul Kalan — the village that he has adopted under the scheme. He assured the sarpanch that more funds would be provided when the need arises.
When asked about the logic behind launching such a scheme if an MP has to provide grants from his MPLAD fund, the former chief minister said, “That is the reason why I am saying that a separate amount should be earmarked for the scheme by the central government. How much can an MP give to one village or for one project from the annual amount of `5 crore he receives under MPLAD. An MP has to look at other villages or areas in his constituency also while distributing the grant.”
Amarinder pointed out that even if he had not adopted Dhaul Kalan, he still would have given the village liberal grants as it had suffered a lot during the years of SAD-BJP rule in the state. “The village has been denied funds for development by the state government for the simple reason that it is the native village of Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, Congress MLA from the Raja Sansi assembly segment for two successive terms.”
In addition to repair of village lanes, buildings of government-run schools and dispensaries, the scheme envisages every developmental scheme chalked out by the central and state governments must be implemented in the adopted villages of all MPs. For example, the ambitious scheme of the PM to ensure that every landholder possess a soil health card, has already been launched in Dhaul Kalan with the mobile laboratory of the agriculture department undertaking soil testing of all land holders and providing them with soil health cards.
Another scheme related to health of mother and child, which includes vaccination for every child and periodic health checks of expectant mothers too will be launched in every adopted village on priority basis.
‘Discrimination’in fund allocation
The former CM pointed out that for the allocation of funds opposition MPs would be at the mercy of the state government. “This is bound to happen in states such as Punjab, where the SAD-BJP government has been following a policy of ignoring assembly segments represented by Congress MLAs or villages that have voted for the Congress,” he opined, while pointing out that Dhaul Kalan was a clear example of the “discriminatory” attitude of the state government.
“Even if funds come from the central government, these have to be rooted through the state government, so discrimination will take place. In such a situation an MP will be under pressure to give money from his MPLAD fund. So the success of Modi’s scheme to have model villages will all depend on Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s attitude, particularly in the case of villages adopted by opposition MPs,” he added.
The sarpanch also pointed out that the central grants for development of villages across the country under the 13th Finance Commission had not reached his village thus far. Despite the grants having reached the office of the Verka block development officer long back, not a penny was given to Dhaul Kalan, he claimed before the former CM.
“The PM’s ambitious scheme is bound to fail, at least in villages adopted by opposition MPs in states like Punjab, which are ruled by the parties that are in power at the Centre,” he added.