By Shashank Saurav:
It seems Nitish Kumar is hell bent on not only transforming the rural face of Bihar but also making his second reign as the Chief Minister historical. In yet another unprecedented step designed to suck out fraudulent money laundering schemes from the corrupt administrative vortex, the NDA government decided to do away with its Local Area Development (LAD) fund.
This move gained significance as well as publicity because this is the first time in the history of our nation that a state has decided to scrap the LAD fund. LAD fund, also known as the MLA fund, is the money granted by the cabinet to MLA’s in order to carry forward the development and growth of their respective regions. But as is the case with Bihar and many other underdeveloped states, a huge part of these funds ends up in the pocket and bank accounts of the MLA’s and their relatives. And although this blatant misuse of state fund has gained attention time and again, nothing is done to curb this growing rapaciousness.
Hence this bold attempt to stop the mishandling of LAD is a welcome step. The attempt is bold because it is possible that the MLA’s may unite against this decision and revolt against the government. However since no news on this front has been heard, it is plausible to assume that the state parliamentarians have decided to add some credibility to their portfolios and stand by the government, even when the possibility of being stripped of a large part of their income looms large.
For the process to take place, an alternative arrangement has to be decided. Nevertheless the agency for monitoring and regulating the fund has now been changed and the state’s Planning and Development Department will be watching over it. For implementation purposes, a district-level implementation committee will be constituted in each of the 38 districts, with each Cabinet Minister being allotted one or more districts under his/ her charge.
Whatever be the procedure or the consequences, the important thing to note is that this move is vital in rooting out corruption from the system. In fact state governments in Jharkhand, UP, Karnataka among others must look to implement this strategy. The biggest reason behind the failure of acts like NREGA, AAY and five year plans is the presence of middlemen who voraciously gobble up the public money.
However there is a flip side to this move as well. It is foolish to assume that all the MLA’s are corrupt. There are quite a few such members who have had a clean image and a decent repertoire. Hence denying these MLA’s of their fund would be like a slap on their faces. In any case it is hoped that such a stringent measure does not deter them from carrying their job.
Besides there is no guarantee that the state level commissions and district level implementation committees are untouched by corruption. Also politics will certainly take over at some point of time and a hue and cry will be raised over this situation.
Nevertheless, we must continue to hope that this move proves to be successful in controlling rampant corruption. Actually we need such iron fists to fight corruption in backward states and spread economic prosperity and development.
The writer is a Special Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student BITS Pilani – Goa Campus.