New Delhi: Parliamentarians can now use Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) fund for medical testing and other facilities required to detect and contain coronavirus, according to recently amended rules. The move follows appeals by some MPs, including Vivek Tankha of the Congress.

“I thank the prime minister and the government of India for responding to our request to relax MPLADS rules permitting MPs to use public funds in the war against coronavirus. This battle is everyone’s responsibility,” Tankha told.

He said the parliamentarians will now be able to help the administration in providing assistance to the needy ones.

“All MPs can reach out to people only through the administration. By relaxing the rules for the utilisation of MPLAD fund, MPs will now be able to reach out to the people through the administration by ensuring the use of MPLAD fund. It can now be used in the purchase of protective gear, masks and sanitisers,” said Tankha, a Rajya Sabha member from Madhya Pradesh.

As per earlier guidelines, MPLADS funds can be used only for permanent work.

“I had rechecked with district and state authorities. (MPs are) Not permitted to purchase & supply disposable & consumables unless allowed/clarified,” he said.

Tankha had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to permit MPs to use their MPLADS funds to reach people through district administration.

“Need masks, sanitizers, medicines & food packets at least twice daily for lacs of men , women & children. Allow public funds to be used for people,” he had demanded.

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation then issued fresh guidelines on Tuesday allowing the use of MPLAD fund for the purpose.

The ministry, based on the requests of MPs, has decided that district authorities may utilise MPLADS funds for medical testing, screening and other facilities required to detect and contain COVID-19, an order said.

It has been decided to grant one-time dispensation under MPLADS fund to buy face masks, gloves and sanitisers for medical personnel, coronavirus testing kits, thermal imaging scanners or cameras for railway stations and airports, and any other medical equipment to check COVID-19, among others, the ministry said in the order, a copy of which was shared by Tankha.

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