New Delhi: In a bid to fast-track implementation of projects under MPLAD scheme, the government on Thursday announced revised guidelines allowing greater flexibility to Parliamentarians and speedy release of funds under it.

Under Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) which started in 1993, the MPs can now recommend for projects of up to Rs 10 lakh annually outside their own state or Union Territory in more areas of operation than before, as per an official statement released here.

Earlier, the MPs were able recommend only those project outside the state or UT from which they have been elected that are relating to cultural and educational activities associated with their own state or UT. Now, the work ambit would cover a much larger area as prescribed under the scheme.

The change is aimed at fostering greater unity among states and allowing MPs to assist people even outside their own state.

Besides, from now on the minimum amount sanctioned under MPLADS for any project would have to be Rs one lakh. This has been done to do way with impediments in implementation of small projects owing to difficulty in processing the sanctions in cases where the amount was smaller and monitoring their implementation and maintenance of records.

The only exceptions would be for projects dealing with things like hand pumps, solar electric lamps, chaupals and equipments, instruments or computers.

The Government had earlier this year enhanced the funding under the scheme to Rs five crore annually for each MP from Rs 2 crore earlier.

Last month, the government had broadened the scope of the scheme and allowed spending of MPLADS fund for assisting physically challenged people.

As per the new guidelines, henceforth the concerned district authority shall release 75 per cent of the estimated cost of a sanctioned work in advance as first installment if the implementing agency is a government agency and the rest 25 per cent sufficient progress has been achieved in the project.

Earlier guidelines had stipulated that the funds would be released to the implementing agencies in two equal installments of 50 per cent each.

Besides, as per the changed guidelines, in case of all MPLADS works of upto Rs 2 lakh which are being undertaken by government agencies, the entire amount shall be released as advance in a single instalment.

However, if the state government rules permit giving advance of 100 per cent, even the Rs 2 lakh ceiling can be exceeded.

In case of MPLADS projects where either the user agency or the implementing agency is a private player, the district authorities have been authorised to release funds upto 60 per
cent of the sanctioned amount as first installment.

In such projects, 25 per cent of the remaining funds can now be released after three-fourth of the project work is over and the last 15 per cent after completion of works.

The old guidelines under which ambulances and hearse vans could be given only to the government hospitals have been done away with.

Now, such vehicles can be purchased freely and operated through private organisations on the recommendation of MPs. However, some stipulations have been put in place under which ambulances or hearse vans will have to be purchased with the recommendation of the chief medical officer or civil surgeon or district magistrate on the proposal of the MP.

The ownership of the ambulance and hearse vans would vest with the district authority or CMO and the service will be run under their general supervision.

The trust or society operating the ambulance or hearse van would be responsible for maintenance and driver and user charges would be fixed by the district authority on the
recommendation of a committee.

The District Collector or his equivalent rank will have to monitor the services provided by the ambulances and vans to ensure maximum benefit to the public and such vehicles shall have bold markings on both sides stating that it has been purchased under the MPLADS and also mention the name of the individual MP.

Under the new guidelines, an MP can contribute only upto Rs 50 lakh in a financial year to various trusts or societies.

As per old rules, trusts or societies were allowed to avail an amount of Rs 25 lakh in their lifetime whether the contribution was made by either one MP or group of MPs for community infrastructure and public utility works permissible under MPLADs.

This change has been brought to allow availability of larger MPLADS funds for developmental activities for general public.