They gherao Commissioner who promises to release Rs. 25 cr.

Scores of contractors tried to lay siege to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) head office here demanding the payment of their pending bills. They later gheraoed Commissioner Siddaiah, who promised to release around Rs. 25 crore in the next three or four days.

The contractors tried to enter the main building around noon but the security staff closed the gate. They did not raise slogans, but argued with officials and security staff to allow them to meet the Commissioner.

One of the contractors, on condition of anonymity, told The Hindu the BBMP had not cleared pending bills amounting to nearly Rs. 1,200 crore. The bills were partially cleared in November last, just a few days before Deepavali.

“Contractors are in dire straits because their pending bills have not been cleared. They are borrowing heavily at high rates of interest. Some have not been able to even pay their children’s school fees,” a member of the BBMP Contractors’ Association said.

Bribes and brokers

Another alleged that the BBMP’s Chief Accounts Officer’s (CAO) office was demanding bribes to sanction the special Letter of Credit (LoC), which is usually issued on seniority basis (i.e., the works that have been completed first).

“There are many brokers in the BBMP office who demand money from the contractors and get them the special LoC. It is only through these brokers that the contractors can get the LoC,” he claimed.

Mr. Siddaiah, who met the contractors and discussed their issues with them, conceded that pending bills had not been cleared for nearly four months now.

He assured the contractors to direct the officials concerned to immediately refund the FSD (Further Security Deposit) and EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) within three or four days.

“The contractors would have paid the EMD at the time of tender but may not have bagged it. The deposit, which is theirs, will be refunded shortly,” he said.

He also said the system of issuing special LoC had been “dispensed with completely”. “I have also directed the CAO to submit a note on the number of special LoC that have been issued and the amount for the same.”

He added that he had instructed the officials to release payment only on seniority basis.

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