New Delhi: When the Central government earlier this year gave its nod for the long-pending demands of parliamentarians to increase the amount of MPLAD funds from Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore, it was highly applauded. But when it comes to utilisation of the fund in order to develop areas, the members have cut a sorry figure.

The honourable members including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Salman Khurshid, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Shahnawaz Hussain, Sharad Yadav, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh are among the 151 Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs who have not even bothered to open a bank account for the allocation of the MPLAD funds.

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation had to relax the norms for the allotment of funds, but it ultimately decided not to disburse the funds in the absence of bank accounts.

According to the rules of the MPLAD funds, it is mandatory on part of an MP to open a bank account in his district. The account opened through the District Magistrate would be credited with amount meant for the MPLAD fund through electronic clearing system. Although the rule is very old, the MPs and ministers are yet to abide by it.

The documents available with Dainik Jagran reveal that the practice of not taking the MPLAD funds in the absence of a bank account is prevalent among the MPs of both the Houses of the Parliament.

The allotment of the MPLAD funds to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a few Central Ministers and several MPs has been done through a cheque or draft. The list includes 34 MPs from Rajya Sabha and 117 MPs from Lok Sabha.

Since the big wigs were involved in this mode of receiving the MPLAD fund, the norms were relaxed earlier this year. However, the Finance Ministry and the CAG were against this consideration. The concerned Ministry had also asked the MPs to open a bank account by June this year.

When the working of MPLAD funds was assessed in August, it was found that 151 MPs were yet to open bank accounts. As a result, the Ministry stopped the allotment of funds.

The parliamentarians who have failed to open bank accounts include 24 Lok Sabha MPs from Uttar Pradesh. Among them are Salman Khurshid (Farrukhabad), Ajit Singh (Baghpat), Jagdambika Pal (Dubamriyaganj), Mohammed Azharuddin (Moradabad), Rajya Sabha MPs Ram Gopal Yadav and Mohan Singh.

The list also includes 17 MPs from Bihar like Sharad Yadav, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Shahanawaz Hussain, Kirti Azad, Rajya Sabha MPs NK Singh and Shivanand Tiwari.

The government rules for the MPLAD funds are very clear. As per the norm, for allotment of the fund, an MP should not only have an account but the district administration is also supposed to register the details of bank account with the monitoring system of the Central plan scheme.

This is an online system which has to be updated on daily basis, so that Central plan scheme is monitored properly. But due to negligent attitude of the MPs the whole plan is yet to see the light of the day.

Anshuman Tiwary/JPN