Maharashtra government, as a special case, has allowed the legislators to use Rs 50 lakh from their fund on measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic in their respective constituencies. The money can be used for the supply of masks, sanitizers, spraying of chemicals, medical services and other related usage. The government’s move comes at a time when the state’s coronavirus positive patient count surged to 167 including five deaths.
State finance minister Ajit Pawar on March 6 during the presentation of annual budget for 2020-21 had announced increase in the legislators’ fund known as local area development (LAD) fund to Rs 3 crore from Rs 2 crore declared in 2011. Pawar, who is state deputy chief minister, had strongly defended the rise saying that it was necessitated because of the increased workload of the legislators.
Of the Rs 3 crore, legislators can spend Rs 50 lakh on anti-coronavirus measures including distribution of masks and sanitizers in their respective assembly segments. The members of the Maharashtra Legislative Council can also use their funds for the same purpose.
State government officer told FPJ, "The order will be issued and the district collectors will be informed so that legislator can recommend the works relating to mitigate coronavirus crisis.’’
Earlier, during the BJP-led government the legislators were allowed to spend Rs 20 lakh in a year for cultural and social events organised by NGOs. However, the government had put a rider that the legislator cannot spend more than Rs 5 lakh on each activity.
The legislators were allowed to fund small infrastructure related works in government granted schools including the construction of compound walls, classrooms, etc. However, it was done after the district collector had to verify credibility of such institutions by asking for their registration certificate and three year audit report.