Punjab government report ‘fails’ some MPs including Sidhu!

January 5th, 2009 - 10:35 am ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Jan 5 (IANS) This is one report card that some Punjab politicians are not going to be proud of. High profile leaders like Charanjit Singh Atwal, Ashwini Kumar and the chirpy cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu have been virtually “failed” for not utilising the development funds allocated to them as MPs.The report, prepared by the MPLADS (Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) section of the state government’s department of planning, deals with money spent by MPs on development works in their respective Lok Sabha constituencies in Punjab over five years.

Each MP gets Rs.20 million (Rs.2 crore) annually from the Government of India (GOI).

The report has figures of amounts sanctioned and released and the amount actually spent by the MPs till Nov 30, 2008. All MPs will have to spend the unspent amounts by March 31 this year as the term of the present Lok Sabha is coming to an end.

Atwal, the Lok Sabha deputy speaker, who is a senior ruling Akali Dal leader and the sitting MP from Phillaur near Ludhiana, has been given a “very poor” standing by the report.

Atwal is not the only ‘failed’ candidate. Giving him company in the “very poor” category is the Congress MP from the Jalandhar Lok Sabha constituency, Rana Gurjit Singh and Rajya Sabha MP from Gurdaspur and Minister of State for Industries Ashwini Kumar.

“I have recommended works worth Rs.100 million already. It is not that the money is lying unutilized,” Atwal said, countering the report.

But what has left Punjab government officials here baffled is the performance of celebrity MP in the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, Navjot Sidhu, who too has been given a “poor” show in the report card even though he incurred an expenditure of Rs.94.6 million on his constituency.

Sidhu’s “poor” show is owing to the fact that nearly Rs.39.5 million remains unspent with the MP against the amount sanctioned to him by the government of India, though he is known to be the second highest spender among all MPs in Punjab.

Sidhu’s media in-charge R.S. Gill, reacted to the report, saying: “Navjot Sidhu is the only MP to have spent nearly Rs.116 million on his constituency. In fact, he got the unspent amount of the previous Congress MP also released and by the end of his term, he will be the MP with highest spending on development works in his constituency. We received Rs.10 million only last week.”

In the case of Atwal, nearly Rs.49.3 million remains unspent. In Rana Gurjit Singh’s case, the millionaire-industrialist has similarly not spent over Rs.55.4 million of development funds meant for his constituency.

The department of planning of the state government has called a meeting of all MPs and senior officials here Jan 9 to discuss the matter of unspent funds.

Among the “outstanding” achievers from Punjab’s 13 Lok Sabha MPs are Akali Dal MPs Zora Singh Mann (Ferozepur), Paramjit Kaur (Bathinda) and former union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (Sangrur), who have less than Rs.20 million to spend before March 31.

Congress MP from Patiala and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh’s wife Preneet Kaur too has about Rs.19.4 million to spend, while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Hoshiarpur, Avinash Rai Khanna, has over Rs.20 million to spend. Both have been put in the “very good” category.

Akali Dal president and Faridkot MP Sukhbir Singh Badal, also the son of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, had over Rs.31 million to spend. His report card shows the performance as “satisfactory”.

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