Civil contractors once again staged a dharna in front of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) head office here on Monday. They had just one demand, as always: clear all dues.
Demanding payment of Rs. 1,500 crore, pending for 13 months, the contractors have now stopped work on all projects in the city.
R.J. Srinivas, president of BBMP Contractors’ Association, said that several contractors were in dire straits, having borrowed heavily to complete the projects within the stipulated time. “There are contractors who need to pay for their children’s school or college fees, for their weddings. Some need medical treatment. The BBMP is still dragging its feet on releasing the amount due to us,” he said.
He said that for the past 10 years, the contractors have had to stage protests demanding that the BBMP release their dues on time. “We are not bothered if the BBMP freezes some projects that it deems unnecessary, we only want our dues to be released on time,” he added. Mr. Srinivas said the BBMP had released Rs. 300 crore and cleared the dues partially just ahead of Diwali last year. Two months’ dues were cleared ahead of Sankranti. The former Commissioner Siddaiah had assured the contractors of clearing six months’ dues, but that promise had not been met.
“Till June-end, the BBMP has collected revenue amounting to Rs. 600 crore and received Rs. 250 crore from the government. Our bills must be cleared on priority,” he said.
Other contractors, on condition of anonymity, claimed that pending bills of certain “influential contractors” got released quickly.
With BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan on leave, senior officials have assured the contractors of releasing at least a couple of months’ dues soon.