Varuna and Kabini canal contractors protest against ‘package tender’ system

Published - December 12, 2023 09:34 pm IST - MYSURU

Varuna and Kabini canal contractors staging a demonstration against the package tender system in front of the Irrigation Department office in Mysuru on Tuesday.

Varuna and Kabini canal contractors staging a demonstration against the package tender system in front of the Irrigation Department office in Mysuru on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: M.A. Sriram

The contractors of Varuna and Kabini canals staged a demonstration in front of the office of the Chief Engineer of Irrigation Department in Mysuru on Tuesday protesting against the ‘package tender’ system adopted by the government for the canal improvement works.

The contractors, who had been starved of works for most parts of the last five years, said the State government’s approval for canal improvement works amounting to ₹116 crore in the T. Narsipura, Varuna and Nanjangud sub divisions was a glimmer of hope. But, the government’s plans to adopt ‘package tender’ system had thrown cold water on their hopes.

“Though we tried to negotiate with the authorities to drop their plan to adopt package tender, we did not receive any assurance. So, we are holding this protest symbolically today,” said Mr. Krishna, a contractor, who is also the vice-president of State Contractors’ Association.

Mr. Nagaraju, a member of the Varuna and Kabini Canal Contractors’ Association, said the package tender system disqualifies most of the contractors of the region in view of the strict conditions stipulated for the same.

Citing an example of package system, Mr. Nagaraju said individual works amounting to ₹20 to ₹80 lakh are combined under a package amounting to ₹4 to ₹5 crore. To bid for the tender, a contractor will have to carry out works amounting to a minimum of ₹2 crore earlier, show an annual turnover of ₹5 crore, and possess large machineries. Hence, most local contractors will be disqualified under the package tender, which invariably is bagged by large companies, the contractors alleged.

The local contractors have not got much work since the 2018 for various reasons including COVID-19. Though works worth ₹46 crore were invited in February 2023, the tender process was put on hold due to the code of conduct for Legislative Assembly elections.

The contractors said they can execute the canal maintenance, repair and improvement works only during the summer months from January to March. Hence, the government should restart the tender process for the ₹46 crore work initiated in February 2022 and drop its plans to adopt the package tender system for the fresh works amounting to ₹116 crore, Mr. Nagaraju said.

The contractors also demanded that the government reduce the duration for keeping security deposit to one year in Irrigation Department against the present three years. For, the duration in other departments is presently one year.

The contractors urged the government to clear all pending bills worth less than ₹20 lakh in one instalment while the bills for higher amounts can be cleared in instalments based on seniority.

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