FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
SILCHAR, Nov 12: The payments of the bills against executed works are very irregular for the past few years in PWD (Roads). The contractors involved in various public sector projects under PWD are going through extreme fincial hardships and having problems in continuing the works. As a result of which, the projects are also getting delayed. While inviting tenders, the department adopts a clause for contractors towards investment of 25% to 30% of tender value as working capital on each and every project.
Accordingly, the contractors, procuring the tenders, have to submit an undertaking from their respective bankers to take responsibility of the prescribed amounts. But, after receiving work orders and during its execution, when a bill is forwarded for payment, the amount is not disbursed on a timely basis on most of the cases. It is to be mentioned here that works are allotted to the contractors with a condition to complete the works in a stipulated period of time.
It is done after according each and every administrative approval and technical sanction of the schemes under which the work is undertaken. But, bills are often returned by the higher authorities concerned by giving excuses like lack of different certificates and reports among others. Having no way left, the contractors have no other option but to rush to Guwahati at least 3 to 4 times to mitigate the objection and to reinitiate the process for passing of the struck bills.
The entire process takes months and even after such unnecessary harassment only a fraction of the total amount is paid. The aggrieved contractors have to pay extra interests on the loans, besides the cost of labour maintence and building materials at the site including POL shoots up exponentially. The contractors are in dire fincial strains due to the cumbersome process. It was informed by representatives of contractors of all the 3 districts of Barak Valley to media-persons in a press-meeting held in PWD Guest House of this town recently.
Sudhanya Choudhury, president of Cachar District Contractors Association, PWD Road Wings Silchar, said since January of this year, the bills are pending. Bills worth Rs.115 crore for the valley have not been released. In Cachar district alone, bills to the tune of Rs.65 crore have not yet been released. In Karimganj and Hailakandi districts, Rs.30 crore and Rs.20 crore respectively are lying pended. Gautam Gupta, the representative of Hailakandi Contractors’ Associations said the same is the situation in all the projects including CM Package, FDR, Annual plan, SCCP and PMGSY schemes among others.
Gupta said that even after 100% completion of the works in some projects, not a single penny of the payment has been released. Besides, the 10% deducted as security is given beck after 5 years. Many of the contractors have been served with legal notices by the banking agencies to return the amount which they took as loans for the projects.
Sudhanya Choudhury drew the attention towards the recent notification released by the Chief Advisor of the Chief Minister of Assam as per which those projects in which at least 50% of the works have been done, must be completed within January 15 of next year. Even the administration is pressurizing the contractors to work as per the notification. But, till date nobody has assured the contractors regarding the release of the pending bills. The contractors further alleged that even after pleading before 65 officials for months, they did not even received a single penny of their due payments.
The contractors in unison said, if the pending amount of Rs.115 crore is not released within November 14, they will be left with no other altertive but to stop all the works in all the road related projects of the valley. They further said that on November 16, they will organize protest demonstrations before the all office of the 3 district head quarters of PWD (Roads) of the valley. Among others who spoke on the occasion included Rahul Amin Laskar, Swadeshranjan Paul, Dailip Barai, Sujit Deb, Ashish Choudhury and Abdul Munim Barbhuiya.