MPLADS: Is Vayalar Ravi too busy to care?

Last month, The Kochi Post had done a series of stories on elected representatives. These included stories on Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) utilisation and development plans of newly elected MLAs.

This week, while scourging through more data on MPs, we came across some interesting facts about Lok Sabha MP Vayalar Ravi. According to data by PRS on the 16th Lok Sabha, Mr. Ravi’s attendance record in parliament is 80%, 2% higher than the national average of 78% and the state average of 66%. However, this seems to be the only positive indicator.

Mr. Ravi has participated in only 5 debates. A very low number compared to the national average of 74.2 and state average of 114.1. He has also asked only 12 questions in parliament as opposed to the national average of 406 and the state average of 603. When it comes to private members’ bills, Mr. Ravi has presented none. The national average for this is 1.5 and the state average is 1.5.

When it comes to MPLADS data, including the UPA period, Mr. Ravi’s is entitled to Rs. 46 crore. The amount released is Rs. 38.50 crore and the amount recommended by him is Rs.45.27 crore. Of the funds released, 88.75% has been utilised.

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The waters are murky when it comes to the funds utilised as part of the 16th Lok Sabha. According to data, though Mr. Ravi is eligible, the Monthly Progress Report has not been received. Incorrect audit certificate and incorrect utilisation certificate are also mentioned on his record.

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The Kochi Post contacted Mr. Ravi to clarify his stand. He said, “I will find out about them (the certificates). No one has informed me yet but as you told me now, I’ll find out. I’m in Delhi now. I will ask my PA to find out. We just sign and give requests. We don’t know anything else.  To oversee the process is the job of the ones who give (the money). We don’t enquire about this. Only if a complaint comes, then we enquire.  I don’t get involved in MPLADS funds. I have a lot of other work.  People send a request asking for the funds, we then approve it.”

He ended the conversation by warming up to The Kochi Post, assuring us that he will ask his PA to find out about this and give us a call.  It is surprising how an MP doesn’t seem to have a good idea of his own MPLADS funds.

MPLADS seems to be a touchy territory. Last week, MP M.K. Raghavan and Kozhikode Collector N. Prasanth had a verbal spat after the Collector held back some of the MP fund for evaluation. The MP was angry and went to the Collectorate and threatened the staff as well as demanded an apology from Mr. Prasanth. The issue ended after the Collector apologised but insisted that all legal procedures would be followed.

Mismanagement of funds under the MPLADS has been a point of concern since the time it was implemented.

Agreed that the MPs only make recommendations and afterwards it is the district authority’s responsibility to sanction, execute and complete the works. However, when the works are completed, the MPs have no qualms in taking the credit. So shouldn’t they show an active interest in entire process right from the sanctioning to the construction? It also seems possible that this sort of nonchalant attitude can come in the way of developmental works.

Main photograph from Richter Frank-Jurgen via Wikipedia.

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