Almost 50% of the total Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs in Delhi out of a total of 67 MLAs have not spent a single penny from the Local Area Development (LAD) funds allocated to every MLA in the last one year, while all Members of Parliament from Delhi have spent a substantial amount from their respective LAD funds, according to reports available on the websites of the Delhi Department of Urban Development (DDUD) and Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme.
According to the DDUD website, 33 of the 67 AAP MLAs have neither spent nor initiated any projects for the development of their local areas and constituencies. All the three BJP MLAs from Delhi have spent more than Rs 90 lakh from their MLALAD funds in 2015-2016. However, only 10 MLAs have spent more than Rs 1 crore from their available fund of Rs 4 crore per year, while about 10 MLAs have spent less than Rs 50 lakh.
Scoring the highest, Amanatullah Khan, AAP MLA from Okhla, has spent almost 95% of his available funds in 2015-16, followed by Sahi Ram (AAP) from Tughlakabad, who spent around 93% of his available funds. Third in the ranking is BJP MLA Vijender Gupta, who spent around 70% of his funds in developmental work in his constituency, ranging from construction of drains, roads and lanes to open gyms and benches. The lowest expenditure is by AAP MLA from Moti Nagar, Shiv Charan Goel, who has spent only Rs 4.61 lakh out of Rs 90 lakh to lay sewer lines.
An in-depth analysis of the reports on DDUD website shows that none of the senior AAP leaders has spent or carried out any significant work in their constituencies. While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has spent only Rs 40.90 lakh to install CCTV cameras in his New Delhi constituency, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has spent Rs 52.96 lakh to construct culverts and improve roads. Cabinet ministers such as Satyendra Kumar and ousted Cabinet minister in the Kejriwal government, Sandeep Kumar have not spent a rupee for any development work in their respective constituencies, as per the data available. On the other hand, ousted AAP MLA from Bijwasan, Colonel Devendra Sehrawat has 13 projects in his constituency, work on which is going on.
Satark Nagrik Sangathan, a voluntary organisation has accused the Delhi government and the MLAs of failing to maintain transparency in regard to MLALAD funds and expenditure details as mandated by the Central Information Commission (CIC) order dated 4 February 2011.
Anjali Bharadwaj, founder of Satark Nagrik Sangathan, told The Sunday Guardian, “The CIC order mandates that all the MLAs and MPs are supposed to disclose their expenditures and project works, both ongoing and completed, in a public and digital platform for easy access to people. But all have failed to do so. It is very difficult to access any information on the MLALAD scheme, as there is no single digital platform from where one can track or check the work being done by their respective MLAs in Delhi.”
“There is no information available in the public domain regarding the work being done or the money being spent from the MLALAD scheme by the sitting MLAs in Delhi, and the online platform available in the Delhi government website opens up a string of websites only to confuse and puzzle people, and is of no help,” she said.
Bharadwaj further added that the Satark Nagrik Sangathan has filed a non-compliance complaint with the CIC and is hoping that stringent action would be taken against these errant MLA. “The government which has come to power on the plank of transparency and anti-corruption seems to have forgotten what transparency stands for,” she said.
The Delhi government had created a website in September 2015 for all MLAs to update their project reports every month for maintaining transparency and accountability. But the reality is different. The website is of little or no help to track the progress of work. Several MLAs have either not uploaded or given any status on their expenditure, while many others’ status shows “no ongoing projects”.
AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan told The Sunday Guardian, “All the MLAs are doing some or other work. It’s not that no work is being done by them, but they have not been uploading them. Also, many MLAs are not being able to execute their work through their MLALAD funds as such funds and estimates are not being cleared by their respective municipal corporations, as such corporations are supposed to execute all development works recommended by the MLAs.”
The MPs are allocated a fund of Rs 5 crore each year to carry out development work in their respective constituencies. A study of the MPLAD funds allocated to Delhi’s seven BJP MPs shows that some work has been done by them.
According to the data available with the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme website for the past three years, the highest cumulative expenditure in Delhi was incurred by New Delhi MP Meenakshi Lekhi, with the percentage of utilisation in her district being 99.14%. Coming at the second spot with a huge gap was MP Udit Raj from North West Delhi with a percentage of utilisation of his MPLAD fund being 54.55%. BJP MP Maheish Girri from East Delhi was at the third position with his percentage of utilisation being 46.25%. MP Harshvardhan from Chandni Chowk stood fourth with 34.88% utilisation, while Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi stood fifth with 28.95% utilisation. Manoj Tiwari was sixth with 14.87% utilization and Pravesh Singh Sahib Verma was seventh with only 2% utilisation of his MPLAD funds.
However, the cumulative amount recommended by the MPs for various MPLADS works differed from the cumulative amount sanctioned. The MP who recommended the highest amount of work under MPLADS was Maheish Girri, with the cumulative amount recommended being Rs 20.80 crore; second was Udit Raj with Rs 18.98 crore; third was Meenakshi Lekhi with Rs 10 crore. The least was sanctioned to Manoj Tiwari—Rs 1.55 crore only.
A spokesperson from BJP MP Maheish Girri’s office told The Sunday Guardian, “The total money after adding the MP’s leftover fund and the money given by the District Authority apart from the funds released by Government of India that we had was approximately Rs 17 crore. We developed a structured plan and focused on the issues that topped the people’s list. Some of the key expenditures include money spent on installation of CCTV cameras, streetlights, open air gyms and recreational centres for the elderly. On the installation of CCTV cameras, we spent Rs 1.57 crore since law and order and safety of women were a priority for the under-developed East Delhi. An additional Rs 2.5 crore is still to be spent on further surveillance plans and Rs 4.57 crore was spent on developing 25 open-air gyms, which are still underway. At present, we have exhausted all our three years’ money on planning various local area development projects. We could have done more if more money was available, since East Delhi is not as developed as other districts of Delhi.”