They say they haven’t got a paisa for works done for nearly a year

Nearly 100 contractors registered with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) staged a protest under the aegis of BBMP Contractors’ Association here on Thursday demanding payment of their pending bills. The contractors, who are already on strike since October 1, said they would continue with their agitation till their dues are cleared.

Demanding immediate payment of their dues which they say amounts to nearly Rs. 2,000 crore, they raised slogans against the BBMP. Things got a bit overwrought when some of them rolled on the ground in front of the main gate while a few others danced to the beat of drums.

Staff rattled

Anxious BBMP employees at the Central Control Room, Citizen Service Centre and Public Relations Office, closed the doors to prevent the protesting contractors from coming inside while security personnel closed the grilled gate at the entrance.

There were some tense moments when the contractors staged a sit-in outside the grilled gate and demanded that the BBMP Commissioner address them. They also demanded release of at least six months’ bills ahead of Ayudha Puja so that they could meet their other commitments, such as giving bonus to their staff.

‘In dire straits’

BBMP Contractors’ Association president R.J. Srinivas said they had not been paid for the past 11 months. “Several contractors are in dire straits as they are not able to repay loans taken from banks and other financial institutions and have received foreclosure notices.”

The BBMP had earlier promised to release six months’ dues according to the work timeline and contractors’ seniority. But that has not happened. “The contractors have completed several [infrastructure] works and submitted the papers to the BBMP. But officials are not clearing the pending bills,” charged association vice-president G.M. Ravindra.

Goel’s assurance

Later, BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel addressed the protesting contractors and assured them of releasing their dues partially within 15 days, ahead of Ayudha Puja. The BBMP was yet to receive Rs.1,200 crore, under various heads, from the State government.

“I am in touch with the Department of Urban Development. Also, the Rs. 800 crore loan from HUDCO (Housing and Urban Development Corporation) is likely to come through this month. We will be able to partially clear the dues. Funds will be released according to seniority.”

Additional funds

Mr. Goel told reporters later that the HUDCO loan was to be cleared last month as the proposal is before the board.

“The board was to have met last month, but the meeting got postponed. Hopefully, this month, the proposal will get cleared.”

The BBMP was expecting Rs. 600 crore from betterment charges. “A lot of citizens have applied to pay betterment charges. After the BBMP council okayed the proposal, a circular was also issued. The revenue officers will start collecting betterment charges soon,” he added.

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