When the Aam Aamdi Party was launched in 2012, its founding members had come up with various novel ideas in order to breathe in a bit of fresh air into Indian politics. One such idea was the Mohalla Sabha.
Going by the press releases put out by the AAP, Mohalla Sabha is a means to proactively engage the citizens of a constituency into making policy decisions. That is, via the Mohalla Sabhas, people could decide how the local MLA should spend the funds that are allocated to him, coordinate with various agencies to track developmental works, and identify beneficiaries for various social welfare schemes among others.
Even though it looks like a good example of taking governance to the masses, not just would engaging all the constituents be a cumbersome process, it could also result in complete chaos due to the sheer number of minds involved.
However, the AAP Government in Delhi decided to go ahead with its promise and approved about 2,972 Mohalla Sabhas in 70 constituencies of Delhi. According to the reports, developmental works to the tune of Rs 350 crores could be decided via these sabhas. A developmental allocation was also made in 2015 for starting some Mohalla Sabhas on a pilot basis and their feedback is far from pretty.
Now an India Today investigation has claimed that there are certain gross irregularities when it comes to the funds that were allocated in 2015. According to the report, the AAP government had allocated about about Rs 20 crores to be used up for Mohalla Sabhas in 12 assembly seats. This amounted to about Rs 55 lakh for each Mohalla sabhas to use for various developmental activities of its choice.
Even though the amount was allocated back then, as it turns out, nobody knows where the money has gone. Neither do the AAP ministers or legislators know where the money is, nor has any developmental work been carried out via the funds.
According to a former Mohalla Sabha coordinator, they had identified as many as 12 developmental works after the consensus of local MLA, SDM and residents. A list was made but only a few metal gates were constructed till.
The coordinator also claims that they had planned to construct toilets, libraries, drains etc but their construction never started. The coordinator though is pretty sure that Rs 55 lakh was allocated for the projects and the money should have been there.
The stakeholders have regularly been pressing the local MLAs, Deputy CM Sisodia for information but have got no response in return.
The reporters had visited various constituencies like Kirai, Patparganj and Chhatarpur but the story was same everywhere. For example Rs 1.10 crore was allocated for the construction of roads in Sanjay Colony at Bhati Mines in Chhatarpur assembly but nothing happened, in Kirari constituency funds were allocated for 40 sanitation workers to clean the drains to stop the spread of deadly diseases like dengue and chikungunya but nothing happened.
This raises the question as to if the existing implementation of the Mohalla Sabhas was in shambles then on what basis was this scheme expanded?
This isn’t the only pilot scheme of the AAP which has come under scrutiny. We had reported that the Mohalla clinics which attempted to provide affordable and standard healthcare for the masses were also a possible scam in the making.
There were possible cases of doctors spending just 27 seconds in checking up a patient, creating fake patients on paper and also giving bogus medicines to the real patients so that they would have to come back. Doctors were undertaking such measures as they earned a per-patient fee from the Delhi Government.