Construction works in the Kochi corporation area including roads and drains may come to a halt soon as contractors have threatened to boycott the works demanding increased rates.

The increase in the cost of construction materials including steel, cement, red earth and river sand has forced the contractors to demand revised rates. Presently, the contactors are given the cost of the materials as fixed by the Public Works Department. However, this is below the market rate and if it is not revised in tune with the market rate, the contractors will be forced to boycott the works, said M.R. Chandran Pillai, president of the Cochin Corporation Contactors Association.

The cost of cement has gone up to Rs. 300 from Rs. 200. The purchase of one cubic metre of river sand would cost an additional Rs. 2,000 each for the contractor. Red earth is not available in the city and has to be brought from the suburbs of the district at a higher rate. There is no provision for paying the transportation cost of construction materials and the contractors are forced to pay it from their pockets, Mr. Pillai pointed out.

Though the government has directed the contractors to use M-Sand in place of river sand, the price of the alternative material has not been fixed. The contractors have decided to stop the work once the materials in their possession get exhausted, he said.

The tender process for the new works that are to be implemented in the fiscal year will be finalised by the month end. If the rates are not revised, the contractors will not take up new works, Mr. Pillai said.

There are 255 contractors in Kochi Corporation and the boycott decision will upset many of the development plans of the civic administration.

The contractors have raised the issue before the Local Self Government Department officials.

However, the authorities have directed them to approach the Public Works Department, which fixes the rate of construction materials, he said.

Dy. Mayor's stand

The contractors should first appraise the State government and the Minister concerned of the situation and seek measures for addressing their grievances rather than boycotting the works, said C.K. Manisankar, Deputy Mayor.

The government revises the rates form time to time considering the price rise and it is a time-consuming process. Of late, the contractors of Kochi Corporation frequently go in for boycott of works, which is unacceptable, Mr. Manisankar said.

In many cases, the contractors quote amounts below the estimate amount prepared by the officials for various works. In some other cases, the officials prepare the estimate amount considering the interests of the contractors too. In both the cases, the contractors will be able to complete the work without sustaining any loss, Mr. Manisankar said.

The Kochi corporation had cleared the bills of the contractors up to June 2009, he said.

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