SHILLONG, Sep 13: An inability to stick to the guidelines for implementing the Special Rural Works Programme (SRWP) is a common feature of most of the sitting legislators representing the seven constituencies of Jaintia Hills as has been indicated by a reply to information sought through the Right to Information (RTI) act.
As per the RTIs filed by the Meghalaya People’s United Front (MPUF), at least four MLAs have not submitted the Utilization Certificates (UCs) to certify that the amount released for the several proposals implemented that have been fully utilized.
However, the guidelines of the SRWP had clearly stated ‘The Block Development Officer shall release such amount as first installment to the beneficiary – organization of the sanctioned scheme for implementation, subject to the condition that “utilization certificate” should be furnished within a period of four months from the date of release of such first installment, certifying that the amount has been fully utilised for the purpose for which sanctioned.’
The four MLAs include two Congress sitting legislators and two independent legislators, who are also holding posts of parliamentary secretaries in the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA-II) state government.
They are cabinet minister Comingone Ymbon from Raliang constituency, former minister Sniawbhalang Dhar from Nartiang constituency, Justine Dkhar, MLA of Khliehriat and Robinus Syngkon from Mookaiaw constituency.
“The RTIs filed by the Front have revealed serious anomalies in the implementation of the SRWP, popularly known as MLA scheme by the respective MLAs of the region,” MPUF chief Dapoiwanmi Laloo said on Wednesday.
He also said that most of the schemes which are claimed to have been distributed to the beneficiaries of the respective constituencies are doubtful in the absence of UCs which can prove whether such schemes are properly implemented.
Stating that non-submission of UCs by the MLAs is in violation against the SWRP guidelines, Laloo said that the Front will soon lodge a complaint with the Deputy Commissioners of the East and West Jaintia Hills on the matter.
“We also demand these public representatives to submit the UCs failing which we will be compelled to file a criminal case against them and even to the extent of filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) as it concerns public funds,” he added.
Moreover, the RTIs further revealed that the MLAs have also failed to fully utilized the SWRP scheme sanctioned by the government at Rs 1 crore each till 2015 and Rs 2 crore (after the scheme was revised) from 2016.
In Raliang constituency, the balance amount which is yet to be released by the MLA was Rs 11.82 lakh (out of Rs 1 crore) for the year 2014-15, Rs 17 lakh in 2015-16 while for 2016-17, proposals were submitted for Rs 2 crore.
With regards to Khliehriat constituency, the amount yet to be released is Rs 42.15 lakh in 2013-14, Rs 21 lakh in 2014-15 and Rs 18.96 lakh in 2015-16.
Quoting the RTI report, MPUF member Michal Chyrmang alleged that the Khliehriat MLA Justine Dkhar had released Rs 5.35 lakh for construction of a basketball court for his own school Ambrose Memorial Secondary School.
He also said that the MLA had also released Rs 2.30 lakh for construction of the bust of Kiang Nangbah, a Jaintia freedom fighter at Khliehriat as per the demand of an NGO but it was not clear to whom the amount was sanctioned to.
On the other hand, he also said that Rs 36 lakhs was sanctioned for implementation of civil works but there was no mentioned about the UC and beneficiary village which the work will be implemented.
Accusing the sitting MLA of failing to release Rs 1.70 crore since 2013 to 2017, Chyrmang said that the constituency still witnessed a religious institution taken the responsibility to repair a dilapidated road from Lad Rymbai to Rymbai village.
He also said that the MLA had purchased over 1700 CGI sheets at a cost of Rs 88 lakh but the list of beneficiaries was not available.
With regards to Nartiang, the constituency of Sniawbhalang Dhar, he said that the amount yet to be released was Rs 6.9 lakh in 2014-15, Rs 14.45 lakh in 2015-16 and Rs 5.35 lakh in 2016-17.
Interestingly, the SWRP scheme was found to be fully utilized only in Mookaiaw constituency which is represented by independent MLA Robinus Syngkon.
“Though the implementation of the scheme in Mookaiaw constituency is said to be perfect but still there has been no submission of UCs to prove that the scheme has benefited the people of the area,” Laloo said.
The MPUF chief maintained that the purpose of filing the RTI was not “politically motivated” but it is to ensure that such politicians do not get a chance to misuse the funds to woo voters during election time.
“It is also a warning to all the MLAs that they have to implement the scheme besides creating awareness to the people they represent about the implementation of the scheme,” he said.
Earlier, the MPUF had filed an RTI on the SRWP implemented in the Jowai constituency, which is represented by Deputy Chief Minister, RC Laloo.
Laloo said that the Front will also soon make public the RTI reports on Sutnga and Amlarem constituencies which are represented by independent MLAs Hopeful Bamon and Stephanson Mukhim.