Development works remain halted as contractors await payment of bills

Despite the end of model code conduct imposed in view of general elections, the developmental works of Kashmir continue to be hostage of state government’s failure to clear unpaid liability of over Rs 1000 crore pushing contractors to bankruptcy.

Developmental activities such as construction of hospitals, schools, bridges etc in Kashmir has been grounded since March following the boycott call of Joint Contractors’ Coordination Committee after state government failed to release their pending bills amounting to Rs 1024 crore.

According to an official, out of Rs 1024 crore, the liability of public works department is around Rs 719 crore, remaining is the liability of contractors who had done works on behalf of the other departments.

“We have forwarded a note to the finance department seeking release of payment. However there has not been any response, but it is likely that before the Eid some portion of pending payment will be released,” said a senior official of PWD.

However, the non-payment of bills of contractors has dampened Eid festivity among families of over 30,000 contractors.

“I have even sold my ancestral land to invest now neither I have land nor the money as a result of which I have became a broke. This is the situation almost every contractor in Kashmir is facing,” said Bashir Ahmad a contractor.

The pending bills of contractors date back to 2014 when the government asked the contractors to carry on repairs of dilapidated roads and buildings on fast-track basis.

“Contractors are facing social and mental trauma due to insensitive attitude of the state government. It is for the first time that even ahead of Eid, government has not released our due payment. We have been pushed to bankruptcy, some of contractors who have been forced to sell jewellery of their wives to make ends meet,” said chairman, JKJCCC, Ghulam Jeelani Purza.

“It seems government is deliberately pushing contractors to wall, so that developmental activities in Kashmir suffer and they could divert the amount,” he said adding that “after Eid if the state government didn’t release our pending bills, we will hit roads and even stop repair work of roads which we had resumed after the intervention of the civil society of Kashmir.”

Work on maternity hospital Bemina, degree colleges, schools and office complexes, bridges and roads across Kashmir is yet to start as the contractors have said they would resume work only when the government clears their pending bills amounting to Rs 1024 crore.