Civic contractors have threatened to suspend all works, including road repairs, drain works and garbage removal, if the Kochi Corporation doesn’t pay up its dues.
The cash-strapped Corporation has pinned its hope on an overdraft offered by a public sector bank to tide over the crisis.
“The corporations owes around Rs 24 crore to the contractors, who have given two weeks’ time,” said M.R. Chandran Pillai, president of the Kochi Corporation Contractors Association.
Though the Kochi Mayor had promised to release at least Rs. 5 crore before August 12, he could not keep his words. The contractors cannot wait indefinitely. The workers need to be paid their salary and festival allowances, he said.
“Works on road built with a guarantee clause will be carried by the contractors. Rest will be suspended if the payments aren’t coming,” Mr. Chandran Pillai said.
Mr. Pillai alleged that the authorities hadn’t even cleared the bill for tidying up the city ahead of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas held last year.
He said the avenue between the venue of the conference at Kundannoor and Nedumbassery airport was cleaned spending around Rs. 4 lakh following a request from the civic authorities and the district administration. It’s almost a year now and the bill had not been passed, he said.
The financial bankruptcy will hamstring a wide variety of works to be implemented in all the divisions of the corporation.
Chairman of the Development Standing Committee T.J. Vinod said a special council meeting to discuss the financial situation should be convened. The Mayor could not make payments to the contractors as promised earlier, Mr. Vinod said.
Deputy Mayor B Bhadra was optimistic that cash will come. She said formalities for taking an overdraft of Rs. 10 crore from Syndicate Bank were completed. Funds would be ready for release in 10 days and the arrears of contractors will be partly cleared, she said.
The delay in releasing funds from the State coffers pushed the city administration into a financial wreck. The Kochi Mayor will meet the State Ministers for releasing the funds.
On it part, the civic body will crank up its revenue collection drive in the coming days to overcome the crisis. Besides the regular salary of its staff, the civic body would have to scrounge for additional funds in September to meet the advance payments for the festival season, she said.