S. Ganesan

Civic officials to persuade them to take up construction work

They cite fluctuating steel and cement prices in open market as the main reason

Corporation has been forced to call for tenders for the sixth time

TIRUCHI: Registered contractors of the Tiruchi Corporation continue to shy away from bidding for tenders for construction of additional buildings for Corporation schools citing the fluctuating steel and cement prices in the open market.

While several organisations have been critical of the Corporation and other local bodies for keeping the Education Cess funds unutilised, civic officials plead helplessness as contractors boycott tenders for any structures requiring extensive use of steel and cement.

Several works, sanctioned by the Corporation Council from the 2006-07 and 2007-08 Education Cess accumulations, have failed to take off.

The Corporation has been forced to call for tenders for the sixth time for at least five of the works envisaging the construction of additional buildings for the Corporation’s Edamalaipattipudur, Varaganeri, Puthur and Vellaivettrilaikara Street middle schools.

These works, worth over Rs.60 lakh, have not attracted even a single bid during the past five tenders though the Corporation has offered the revised government rates for raw materials announced last year.

The Corporation was also permitted to award the tenders even if the bidders quoted five per cent above the estimate. But even this has not convinced the contractors.

According to Corporation sources contracts could be awarded for only six out of the 14 works sanctioned last year at a cost of nearly Rs.3 crore.

Apart from school buildings, a tender for the construction of residential quarters for sanitary workers at Poosari Street too has not attracted any bidders.

A representative of the Corporation Contractors Welfare Association said that they were forced to keep away from these tenders due to the wild fluctuations in the steel and cement prices.

“We would sustain heavy losses if we take the works at the rates offered by the government now,” he said.

Contractors are now offered Rs.38 a kilo for steel against the prevailing market price of about Rs.42. For cement, contractors are offered just about Rs.225 a bag.

Some of the local bodies have reportedly made a representation to the government on the issue and has sought either a revision in raw material rates or supply of cement through the Cement Corporation of India as is being done for government works taken by the district administration under the Food for Work scheme.

The Corporation is now preparing estimates for another nine school building works to be taken up at a cost of Rs.2.12 crore.

Civic officials are now planning to “persuade” the contractors to take up the works by introducing a condition that those who were awarded two road works should compulsorily execute a school building work.