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Now, MPs can build railway stations where they want

Last updated on: May 2, 2012 13:35 IST

Now, MPs can build railway stations where they want

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A Delhi Correspondent

Believe it or not, now your Member of Parliament can decide where to halt a particular train.

According to a privilege extended to lawmakers by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, MPs can now sponsor the construction of the railway stations from his/her annual budget of Rs 5 crore and etch his name for perpetuity on a steel or metal plaque.

The statistics and programme implementation ministry has included halt stations in the list of constructions allowed under the MP Local Area Development fund.

The modified guidelines say that funds from the MPLAD scheme can be used for constructing the halt stations 'to facilitate the local community for easy access to railways and boarding/de-boarding from the train'.

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Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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The announcement, however, has irked the Railway ministry, which has so far not agreed to empower the MPs to decide the halts of trains in their area.

Worried Railway ministry officials say that the schedule of trains will be disrupted if MPs start deciding the halt stations.

The only scope left for the Railways to prevent the mushrooming growth of the halt stations at every small town and village is with the MPLAD guidelines stating that "the implementation will be carried out as per the provisions of the Railways".

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Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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The guidelines, pushed by Minister of State S K Jena, stresses that there should be no duplication or duplicate accounting.

If the Railways are also contributing to establishment of any train halts, the accounts of expenditure will be strictly maintained separately for both MPLAD scheme and Railways, say the guidelines. 

"A plaque (steel/metal) indicating the cost involved, contribution made from MPLADS/Railways, if any, commencement, completion and inauguration and the name of the MP sponsoring the work should be permanently erected," the guidelines add.

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Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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Under the MPLAD scheme, each MP has the choice to recommend to the District Collector works to the tune of Rs 5 crore per annum to be taken up in his/her constituency. 

A Rajya Sabha MP can recommend works in one or more districts in the state from where he/she has been elected, while the nominated MPs of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya SAbha are allowed to select any one or more districts in one state for implementation of their choice of works.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tops in the country in the highest utilisation of 90.5 per cent of the MPLAD funds in Assam from where he is elected as compared to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and son Rahul Gandhi clocking 58.97 and 35.35 per cent respectively, there are large number of the MPs who are not able to spend the money allotted to them for ordering works of their choice, though with restrictions on what works can be carried out under the scheme.

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Photographs: PIB Photo

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An MP gets Rs 5 crore every year and can carry over the unspent money in the following years, but there are a large number of MPs who completed their terms without utilising the full amount, which is Rs 30 crore in case of the Rajya Sabha members and Rs 25 crore for the Lok Sabha member if the House lasts full term.

At a meeting convened by the ministry of statistics in February, the officials noted large amounts remaining unspent by the MPs during their term and hence the district collectors were told to close accounts by March 10, 2012 and refund the balance of the unspent money in case of members of the last 14th Lok Sabha as also that of the former members of the Rajya Sabha. 

The MPs insist that works ordered by them should be completed irrespective of their term ending or not, the government has taken a stand that it would only lead to many MPs using large amounts out of Rs 25 crore to recommend works towards the end of their term to influence the voters.

Moreover, delay in closing their accounts would give a leeway to the officials to delay submission of the final utilisation certificate (UC), the ministry officials said.

They said the ministry is already developing a single e-portal of the MPLAD scheme to have detailed information on release, expenditure and works undertaken on the recommendation of the MPs and show at regular intervals the state of their completion.

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Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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