News: With the Lok Sabha passing a Bill to formalise the Commission for Air Quality Management for National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas on Wednesday, experts said the government has to now speed up implementation of alternatives to stubble burning.
About Stubble Burning:
Stubble burning is the act of clearing agricultural fields by burning the residue that is left on the land after harvesting, to ready it for the next round of seeding.
The period from 15 October to 15 November is when stubble burning instances spike because paddy crops are harvested during this time and the residue left behind needs to be cleared to sow wheat.
While burning is the easiest and cheapest method, there are other, less harmful ways of clearing agricultural fields.
One such method is using a Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine, which can uproot the stubble and also sow seeds in the area cleared. The stubble can then be used as mulch for the field.
Another possible alternative is the Pusa bio-decomposer, developed by the scientists at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, which turns crop residue to manure in 15-20 days by accelerating the decomposition process.
News: Virtually half of the belated ₹2,200 crore allotted for completing the ongoing MPLADS projects in 2020-21 simply lapsed, as the Finance Ministry granted “barely a week” to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) to release the funds — inviting the ire of the Standing Committee on Finance.
About Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS):
Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) is a scheme formulated by Government of India on 23 December 1993 that enables the members of parliaments (MP) to recommend developmental work in their constituencies with an emphasis on creating durable community assets based on locally felt needs.
Initially, this scheme was administered by Ministry of Rural Development.
Later, in October 1994, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) has been looking into its working.
Elected Members of Rajya Sabha representing the whole of the State as they do, may select works for implementation in one or more district(s) as they may choose.
Nominated Members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may also select works for implementation in one or more districts, anywhere in the country.
MPs can also recommend work of up to Rs. 25 lakhs per year outside their constituency or state of election to promote national unity, harmony and fraternity.
MPs can recommend work of up to 25 lakh for Natural Calamity in the state and up to Rs. 1 crore in the country in case of Calamity of Severe Nature (e.g. Tsunami, major cyclones and earthquakes).
A State level nodal department is chosen, which is responsible for supervision and monitoring and maintaining coordination with line departments. District authorities (DAs) sanction the work recommended by MPs; District Authority would be responsible for overall coordination and supervision of the works under the scheme at the district level and inspect at least 10% of the works under implementation every year.
The District Authority should involve the MPs in the inspections of projects to the extent feasible. sanction funds; identify implementation agency and user agency, implement the work on ground, transfer assets to user agency, and report back to ministry about status of MPLADS in the district.
Each MP is allocated Rs. 5 crore per year since 2011-12
Funds are non-lapsable in nature i.e. in case of non-release of fund in a particular year it is carried forward to the next year. MPs need to recommend work worth at least 15% and 7.5% of their funds to create assets in areas inhabited by Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) respectively.
Funds for MPLADS can be converged with Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for creating more durable assets and with National Program for Development of Sports (Khelo India).
Infrastructure development on land belonging to registered societies/ trusts is permissible, provided the society/trust is engaged in social welfare activity, and is in existence for three years.
No more than Rs. 50 lakh for one or more works in the lifetime of the society/trust can be spent. MPLADS funding is not permissible for those societies where the concerned MP and his/ her family members are office bearers. For societies or charitable homes which look after deprived segments of the society, the relaxed grant is Rs. 1 crore.
Works which will serve greater public purpose and not purpose of few individuals need to be recommended. MPs can only recommend, but District Authorities have the ultimate power to sanction it.
Key priority sectors: Drinking water facility, education, electricity facility, non-conventional energy resources, healthcare and sanitation, irrigation facilities, railways, roads, pathways and bridges, sports, agriculture and allied activities, self-help group development, urban development.
Works not permitted: construction of office and residential buildings for public and private agencies, land acquisition or paying compensation, naming assets after individuals, grants or loans to state/central relief fund, assets for individual benefits, works on lands belonging to religious groups, execution of works in unauthorized colonies.
Other works permitted: construction of railway halt station, providing CCTV camera in strategic locations, installation of bio-digesters at stations, schools, hospitals, provision for fixed weighing scale machines for farmers, installation of rainwater harvesting systems in public spaces, construction of shelters for skill development.
Some new guidelines for MPLADS were announced by MOSPI:
Projects implemented by government agencies would now be provided 75 per cent of the project cost as the first instalment, while those implemented by non-governmental agencies would be provided 60 per cent.
For smaller projects costing less than ₹2 lakh (US$2,800), the entire amount would be released at one go.
No project costing less than ₹1 lakh (US$1,400) would be sanctioned with exception in the case of essential projects, such as installation of hand pumps, and purchase of computers and their accessories, solar electric lamps, chaupals and equipments .
The basket of works that could be taken up under the scheme had been widened to include projects such as the purchase of books for libraries, and ambulances and hearse vans that would be owned and controlled by district authorities.
The purchase of Microsoft Office software along with the training of two teachers per school would be now allowed as part of an effort to promote computer literacy in the country.