Is it true that not a single penny has been spent from the Prime Minister’s Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme(MPLAD) fund in villages adopted by him in his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi?
In response to an RTI application filed by Anuj Verma from Kannauj, the project director of the District Rural Development Authority in his written reply informed that in the four villages adopted by the Prime Minister since 2014, no work has been undertaken with funds from the PM’s own constituency fund.
INC spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted, “We all know why Modi Sarkar is against the RTI, because it reveals some unpleasant truths about the PM. For e.g. spending ₹4500 crores for self publicity and zero spending for development of 4 villages he adopted in Varanasi.”
An ADM in Varanasi, Anuj Maheshwari, said that a lot of work had been done in the villages and much more has been spent than the meagre ₹5 Crore provided to each MP under the ‘Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’ scheme.
The ADM also confirmed that the projects undertaken in the PM’s adopted villages were sponsored by nationalised banks, industrial units and the state government. But he had no information of any amount spent from funds available to the PM as a Member of Parliament for his adopted villages.
The scheme was announced with much fanfare in 2014 but had immediately run into opposition. Members of Parliament had then felt that it was impractical to select just one village in the constituency for holistic and integrated development at the cost of all other villages.
“What would be the basis of selecting one village every year ? On what grounds do we reject the claims of other villages and how do we respond to constituents from other villages who would like to know why they were left out?” were questions posed by several MPs.
In contrast, the MPLAD (MP’s Local Area Development Fund) could be utilised for specific schemes anywhere in the constituency, though the amount had been the same, ₹5 Crore per year.
While a PSU bank and private companies had installed solar streetlights in Jeyanagar under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, media reports indicated that many of the batteries had been stolen and had plunged the streets into darkness. Around 80 of the 135 streetlights were not functioning, said a media report in January this year. Apparently neighbouring villagers, upset at being ignored, had conspired to steal the batteries and break glass windows in schools and Anganwadis.
Only 20% of the 400 toilets constructed were apparently in use with villagers complaining that the designs were poor and impractical.
Every Member of Parliament, according to the scheme, was to select three Gram Panchayats ( not villages) by March, 2019 and make them model villages through ‘holistic and integrated’ development.
While the Lok Sabha website is silent on the programme, the website of the Rural Development Ministry claims, “Work is going on in 1235 Gram Panchayats. An analysis of performance of 35 development indicators in these villages shows that there has been a significant increase in provision of houses, internal village roads, household electrification, household latrines and piped water supply in many of the villages selected under SAGY.”
The website goes on to claim, “Of the data analysed for 649 SAGY Gram Panchayats, it was found that 330 of them have reported 100% immunization in 0 to 6 age group, 300 have reported that every child has received ICDS services, 128 Gram Panchayats have become Open Defecation Free, 284 Gram Panchayats have reported no malnutrition in Grade-III or Grade-IV category and 445 Gram Panchayats have reported 100% coverage in provision of mid-day meals.”