This refers to the column “To scrap or reinvent”, by Rajiv Kumar and Palakh Jain (FE, September 7).
This refers to the column “To scrap or reinvent”, by Rajiv Kumar and Palakh Jain (FE, September 7). In fact, ever since its introduction in 1993, MPLADS—which provided then a sum of R5 lakh per MP, which gradually became R5 crore per annum by FY12—has been mired in controversy. Various allegations of misutilisation, non-utilisation and underutilisation of funds, encroaching upon the powers of the executive, etc, have been leveled against it by many quarters. Some government agencies, including the CAG of India, have voiced strong reservations over this scheme. Some MPs, including the then Speaker Lok Sabha Somnath Chatterjee, had already vehemently opposed it since the day of its inception. The then opposition BJPs has expressed divergent views. The corrupt practices were highlighted under ‘sting operation’ by the media where some MPs were shown accepting bribes. The funds former chief election commissioner Navin Chawla received from MPs for his two trusts stoked a major controversy. Such cases of bad utilisation outweigh the instances of adequate utilisation. Taking care of community projects is the job of the executive. Why should MPs, who happen to be members of the legislative pillar, should hijack this power? This is in contravention of the parliamentary system. Though some members, including the Prasanna Acharya, chairman of parliamentary committee on the MPLADS, are staunch supporters of this scheme, but given the facility has been abused rather than used, it will be foolhardy to continue with it. Figures released by the government from time to time show that several MPs haven’t utilised this fund at all. Apart from all this, the moral hazard of favourable consideration is always there when it comes to sanctioning funds for some work. The controversial scheme should be given a deep burial sooner than later so that a whopping sum can be saved and utilised for actual development purposes.
SK Khosla, Chandigarh
No to Railways’ surge-pricing
Apropos of the news report “Surge pricing for 131 premium trains to fetch additional R500 crore” (FE, September 9), there can’t be two views that to the monopoly-induced artificial shortage and jacking up of fares by the Railways is unfair. It goes without saying that an autonomous rail tariff authority for efficient tariff-setting is the need of the hour. It is ironical that the Indian Railways—which has been subsidising the entire cost of rail travel undertaken by VIPs, MPs, MLAs as also its own staff—is dubiously taking shelter behind the unsustainable plea that, till now, it has been heavily subsidising the passenger segment as it has been recovering only 57 paise per 100 paise of requirement. Will its dynamic chief please come out with a white paper specifying the quantum of subsidy doled out every year by his ministry to faithfully oblige such fully-exempted categories of passengers vis-a-vis the ordinary passenger? It appears that the railway minister is highly keen to implement a hidden agenda, of benefiting the VIPs, in this manner as it is highly likely he won’t get an opportunity to present a separate rail budget in the year 2017.
SK Gupta, Delhi