Association stages protest, demands clearing of bills pending for 16 months

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) ambitious plans of taking up ward-level projects worth Rs. 465 crore across the city simultaneously may all but be dashed. The reason: the BBMP’s contractors have decided to not participate in the tender process for these works to protest against the civic body not clearing their bills pending for nearly 16 months.

Scores of contractors protested and even beat drums at the BBMP head office here on Thursday, demanding that the civic body clear their pending bills amounting to Rs. 1,700 crore.

R.J. Srinivas, president of the BBMP Contractors’ Association, told The Hindu that more than 90 per cent of the contractors, who are members of the association, would not be participating in any tender floated for the 2,787 projects to be taken up in 198 wards. He said that the BBMP had been dilly-dallying about clearing the bills.

He alleged that even those who have participated in the tenders are “followers and friends” of councillors. “We will file a complaint against these contractors with the Lokayukta. These contractors are clearly in cahoots with the councillors,” he charged.

Mr. Srinivas said that the association members even met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and urged him to direct the BBMP Commissioner M. Lakshminarayan to clear the pending bills. He claimed that Mr. Siddaramaiah had assured them of speaking to the Commissioner in this regard.

“Every time, we have to stage a protest and the BBMP makes a token release and clears bills for a month. Several contractors are in dire straits and have been waiting endlessly for the BBMP to clear their bills. Some are so deep in debt that they have not been able to pay their children’s school fees and have mortgaged their properties,” he lamented.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lakshminarayan said that the BBMP was trying to clear at least two months’ pending bills as soon as possible.

Admitting that he cannot force the contractors to participate in the tender process, he said: “I appeal to the contractors to participate in the tender process. We are trying to clear their dues.”