The district unit of the Karnataka State Contractors' Welfare Association extended its wholehearted support to Anna Hazare and the Jan Lokpal Bill, even as it demanded that the Bill incorporate stringent punishment for the corrupt, including the death penalty.
Admitting that contractors were not clean, association secretary D.L. Kulkarni claimed that they were helpless, and had to pay bribes to get their dues.
Not all the contractors were rich and many took loans from banks and private lenders to execute works, he said.
But corruption started right from the passing of tenders until the payment of dues.
The bribe to be paid would have to be anywhere between 25 and 30 per cent, including five to 10 per cent for the concerned MLA and the remaining for officials concerned and the Finance Department in Bangalore, to get the Letter of Credit (LOC), Mr. Kukarni said.
Mr. Kulkarni alleged that the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) had recently tendered works, ignoring the lowest bid from a local contractor.
Mr. Patil said all the contractors in the district had decided to stop construction if the Government did not clear their dues immediately. He said nearly Rs. 70 crore each was due to the contractors in Belgaum and Chikkodi divisions in the district.
The Government had not paid even for works completed for the Vishwa Kannada Sammelan held in the city in March this year, he alleged.
When asked if the Government had stopped payment in view of the poor quality of the work on roads in the city, Mr. Patil accepted that with corruption to such a high extent, it was difficult to maintain quality.
He claimed that in the majority of cases, the designs of structures or roads prepared by the concerned government department engineers were not appropriate to ensure the required quality.
Other reasons he cited for the poor quality of work were the increasing price of construction materials and the preparation of estimates based on old Schedule of Rates (SR).
However, the contractors would wait for a few days before finally stopping works, Mr. Patil said, denying that the association was blackmailing the Government.