DHUBRI: Contractors under the Water Resources Department who executed anti-erosion works during 2014-15 across Assam are in dire straits due to non-payment of bills of over Rs 100 crore.
A recommendation was made by the Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (Flood Management Wing) of the Central Government, to the Chief Engineer, Brahmaputra Board for clearing the bills of the contractors and to send the audited payment by the State Audit General department to its office to reimburse the Central Government's share.
The above recommendation was made in a letter dated 21.01.2021 by the Deputy Commissioner (FM) of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (Flood Management Wing). But five months have elapsed and this has not even been communicated to the State Government yet.
A section of contractors who executed the works across the State said that after formation of new government in Dispur, besides other stringent measures, it also stressed and focused on taking anti-erosion works across the State. But at the same time, outstanding bills of crores of rupees have not been cleared.
A large section of contractors under Dhubri Water Resources Department has expressed resentment over non-payment of bills. Though works were executed, inspection was done by high officials and even after recommendation was made by the Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (Flood Management Wing) department, bills to the tune of several crores of rupees are still pending.
All the anti-erosion works were executed years back to protect people living near the erosion-hit areas, said a source in the Dhubri Water Resource Department. The source added that non-payment of the bills to the contractors has led to even bankruptcy among a section of contractors who carried out the works by borrowing money from money lenders.
An official of the Dhubri Water Resource Department informed that in Dhubri district alone the outstanding amount bill was around Rs. 16 crore against the anti-erosion measures carried out to protect Berabhanga area on L/B from the erosion of River Brahmaputra from Boro Balurchar to Kalir Alga along with reclamation of eroded land within the reach, strengthening and extension of Dhubri town protection works from Newghat to Aironjong from the erosion of River Brahmaputra.
Beside these, anti-erosion measures to protect Maisa and Belguri villages from the erosion of River Gangadhar, anti-erosion measures to protect Bhalukmari and its adjoining areas from the erosion of River Brahmaputra and channelization of Gangadhar River in between Chilarai Bridge and Railway Bridge to protect Pub-Kanori, Ratiadah and Golokganj town from the erosion of River Gangadhar were also carried out.
Contractors have threatened that if the bills were not cleared soon, they would not participate in bidding tender for further anti-erosion works under the Water Resource Department.