26 November, 2020

Loot Or Largesse?

MPs' access to funds for constituency development sparks off a debate

Loot Or Largesse?

LAST fortnight a fire at a religious gathering in eastern Orissa left almost 200 people dead. The state government paid a compensation of Rs 50,000 to each victim's kin, costing the exchequer Rs 1 crore. Ironically, this same sum is at the disposal of each member of Parliament every year for development work in his constituency.

In November, an estimated 7 million people in Andhra Pradesh were hit by a severe cyclone, leaving about 1,000 dead. While Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, the powerful convener of the ruling United Front, demanded Rs 2,100 crore as compensation, the Centre sanctioned only Rs 644 crore. Of which only Rs 80 crore was a grant. But almost around the same time, about Rs 400 crore—a second instalment of the annual Members of Parliament Local Developmental Scheme (MPLADS)—was released to MPs.

In both cases, the money came from the Contingency Fund. But while the Andhra Pradesh chief minister had to go to the extent of publicly criticising the Centre to pressurise it into releasing the funds, the MPs did not have to do much to get...



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