Norms for MLA/MLC funds amended to restrict ‘favours’

The Department of Rural Development has changed the norms of the usage of legislators' local area development funds (MLA/MLC funds), making it difficult for the members of state assembly and council to get these funds allotted to such societies or trusts wherein they themselves or their family members are holding posts.

Till now, there were no explicit norms regarding the allotment of fund to any society or trust, which mentioned that relatives of legislators could not be a part of the society, said Rajiv Kumar, Principal Secretary of Rural Development. In the revised rules, the ambiguity has been removed and the definition of family members made clear, said Kumar.

Now, a legislator can propose various works to be done under this scheme in a financial year, but a cap of Rs 25 lakh has been put on each of these proposals. As of now, Rs 1.5 crore is allotted to each member of the Legislative Assembly and Council. Kumar said that the guidelines for utilisation of these funds are being prepared and will be ready within 10 days.

A legislator cannot recommend that the funds be allotted to any such society or trust where either the legislator or his or her family member is holding a post. Even if such society or trust has received funds under the scheme in the past, they cannot be recommended for further work. Family, as defined by the rules, includes legislator's father, mother, brother or sister, children, grandchildren and their spouse as well as in-laws.

As an exception, such a trust or society which is working in the field of medical and health or education and is notified by the state government, where the legislator or family member is holding an honorary post without salary, can be given allocated funds, but the decision to provide "relaxation from contextual restriction" is left on the Speaker of the House, who himself or through a committee formed by him, can take a decision on such cases.

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