When a Bengaluru MP spends his local fund in Andhra

Planned vs Actual Spending of MPLAD funds by sitting MPs

You have seen the MPLAD spend data for all three MPs of Bangalore. A closer look at the MPLAD fund spending also reveals some interesting patterns, some of which are presented below.

Borewells and borewells

During the time that he was an MP, Ananth Kumar spent more than Rs. 4 crores on 106 borewells. P.C. Mohan used Rs. 3.35 crores of his MPLAD funds to sink 67 borewells. Not far behind, we have Chandre Gowda who spent Rs. 1.34 crores on 30 odd borewells.

The cost of sinking borewells documented here is anywhere between Rs. 2.5 lakhs to Rs. 5 lakhs. While one hopes that the infrastructure which has been created is put to good use, it is actually tough to verify if they were really dug, what was the water yield, what was the depth, what casing was used, what was the actual cost, what is the status etc. However without independent verification – which can be known through the work order, it is virtually impossible to say whether the project cost is justified.

Halls for whom?

Yet another interesting feature is the consistency with which community halls are funded. No one is quite sure whose interests are served by constructing these community/cultural halls, but they seem to be sanctioned and constructed by dozens.

Yet another feature of MPLAD spending that needs investigation is the utilization of MPLAD funds on creating infrastructure for trusts and societies some of which are directly affiliated to political parties or religious institutions (for instance – Ananth Kumar, there is an entry which shows that Ananth Kumar has spent Rs. 25 lakhs on a yoga centre at Rashtrothana Parishat- an organization known as an RSS affiliate). The MPLAD guidelines are quite clear in that MPLAD funds cannot be utilized for funding non profit organisations/religious organisations. In light of such clear guidelines, how MPs spend monies on funding such organizations is quite the mystery.

There are some quirky entries as well. P C Mohan who has funded a project in Nellore – Andhra Pradesh Nellore (this is not allowed), and he has also funded the construction of hi-tech toilets to the tune of over Rs.10 lakhs. Chandre Gowda contributed Rs.10 lakhs to the Uttarakhand Relief Fund in wake of the tragic Uttarakhand floods last year; though that certainly seems to be a humanitarian gesture, the legality of that certainly comes into picture.

Good work attracts everyone’s attention

Yet another interesting feature of the MPLAD funds comes about when local politicians claim credit for the work done by MPs. Thus according to RTI activist, Anil Kumar, the local MLA representing his area – Ramalinga Reddy has been claiming credit for sinking borewells and providing drinking water in Ejipura when in fact those projects are clearly marked as being funded under the MPLAD scheme. Such piggyback riding behaviour is not uncommon, and manifests across different constituencies.

Another point which Anil Kumar mentions is the agencies which were responsible for implementing the projects. He points to the implementing agency column where it is clearly shown that the Panchayati Raj Public Works department was executing MPLAD works in what is an extremely urbanized area (refer to Ananth Kumar’s MPLAD fund link where Borewell sinking in Ejipura – Koramangala has been executed by PRED). He points out that when the city has an elected municipal body – BBMP, why the need for a rural state agency to be the implementing authority.

No auditing, no tracking

One of the most important aspects of the MPLAD funds is absence of the auditing process to make sure that the projects which are mentioned actually exist and that the cost estimate is not inflated which very well might be the case. The current process of checks and balances is that where a select group of MPs are entrusted with monitoring the MPLAD implementation. It is not clear, how they actually monitor the implementation. One wonders whether there could be a more rigorous and accountable way to monitor the MPLAD funds.

Another interesting fact pointed out by Avinash Krishnamurthy of Biome Environmental is that the Karnataka Ground Water Act 2011 mandates that any sinking of borewell requires the permission of the nodal water management authority – in this case BWSSB, and he wonders whether the permission has been sought before implementing so many borewell projects.

Officials unwilling to part with DPRs

In quite a few cases, project officials are reluctant to provide the work order data. This was the experience of RTI activist, Ravindranath Guru who has waged a year long battle to get the work order related to certain MPLAD projects of his area. He says that for a long time officials were reluctant to part with the data even when an RTI application was filed. The Deputy Commissioner’s office was fined Rs. 5000/- by the Chief Information Commissioner for going slow on providing the data and even now after a year, the complete information is not forthcoming.

A quick tabular comparison of MPLAD spending for Bangalore Urban Lok Sabha Constituencies (2009- 2014) – All figures in INR Lakhs

MP/Details

Civic Amenities

Education

Health

Roads

Sanitation

Water

Others

Chandre Gowda

158.62

41.5

2.84

1517.04

0

123.5

60

P.C. Mohan

707.2

676.89

116.1

50

101

335.2

0

Ananth Kumar

621.4

408.6

180

44.5

48.98

450.7

22.5

As can be seen from the above table, each MP seems to have a favorite spending head, for Chandre Gowda that is road improvement, for P C Mohan, civic amenities, education and water seem to be where the bulk of MPLADS have been spent, the same pattern for Ananth Kumar as well.

Thus, while MPLAD spend is not a direct measurement of an MP’s performance, it surely is an indicator of the transparency and integrity the MP holds up.

Related Articles

MPLAD:Yet another top-down approach
Check what your MP has done: Ananth Kumar, Bangalore South
Check what your MP has done: D B Chandregowda, Bangalore North
Check what your MP has done: P C Mohan, Bangalore Central

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