Here's why railway-station benches will soon carry local MPs' name
The Railways is planning to install 1L benches at 1,500 stations across the country through a unique sponsorship scheme: local MPS will fund these benches, costing Rs. 12,000-30,000 each, and in turn, their name will be etched on the bench. The idea was reportedly floated by PM Narendra Modi, who himself has pledged Rs. 40L for 900 benches in his constituency's stations. Here's more.
Similar scheme has been in operation, but not much fruit
The idea to use MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds for railway station benches has been in implementation since some time, but it hasn't taken off as MPs have been contributing small amounts. Only Rs. 14cr has been collected so far. To encourage more contributions, the Railways has now decided on the new scheme to meet the requirement of benches at stations.
What's the scheme all about?
Under this scheme, the local MP's name who contributes funds will be displayed on benches as sponsor. The plan is to set up four-seater and 10-seater benches. The tender, expected next month, will be the biggest procurement of public furniture by a government-agency. To ensure uniformity, the project is being supervised centrally in Delhi. The PMO will monitor progress. The aimed deadline is March'19.
Contribute for one bench, get name written on two
To encourage MPs to contribute even more, the Railways is adopting a '1+1' policy: for every bench that one sponsors, the Railways will install another at the same station, with the MP's name written on it as benefactor. MPs have already been informed of the plans, the department said. Those interested in making contributions can contact railway authorities.
These MPs have contributed till now
Till now, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has given Rs. 25L for Vidisha. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has pledged 1,940 benches for stations in Gujarat. Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti has pledged Rs. 36L. Among other party MPs, Sudip Bandyopadhyay of TMC has given Rs. 20L for Kolkata's suburban stations. Though Congress President Rahul Gandhi has agreed with the project, he hasn't released money yet.