Clear contractors’ liabilities

When undue political intervention into ordinary administrative mechanism takes place, it disturbs the equilibrium which sets in motion a chain of after effects, topping which is generating of huge financial liabilities. A piquant situation, thus takes place which becomes difficult to be resolved. Why has Roads and Buildings Department failed to clear the liability of over Rs.500 crore in the form of non payment of the dues to many contractors who undertook various types of allotted works to them , is as baffling as it is to see to keep the issue unsettled. These liabilities have accrued during the financial years of 2015-16, 2016-17 , 2017-18 and so on. It is startling to note that Rs. 100 crore of such works in Jammu and Rs.400 crore for Srinagar respectively are pending since 2015. It is learnt that these liabilities having accrued are on account of those works which were in excess of and over those planned ones and for which budgetary provisions or other assured funding arrangements were made. Can just verbal instructions of former Ministers and Legislators be acted upon unless received in writing and got confirmed and authorised by the competent authority is equally important ?
These politicians were wielding influence during PDP – BJP coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir but that they should call the shots even after the fall of the Government is really unbelievable and lends strength to having such undue exertion of influence contained and stopped. Actually, these works pertained to black topping of roads, in Jammu and Srinagar cities besides in districts and sub- divisions across Jammu and Kashmir. Contractors are in tight spot and no one listens to them forcing them even to resort to agitation(al) methods like holding dharnas and protests outside designated concerned offices but of no avail. Mere verbal assurances from senior officers is what they have been subjected to and those ‘Political Whigs’ who ‘inspired’ them to undertake works have left them to lurch as they can obviously do nothing. Contractors having ‘spent’ amount from Rs. 0.50 crore to Rs.3 crore must have not been entirely from their pockets but must have resorted to short term borrowings at phenomenal costs.
Some of these hapless contractors visited the office of ‘Excelsior’ with their baskets of woes and problems narrating the entire gamut of things. It is learnt that a top bureaucrat in the administration has warned those R&B Engineers of filing FIRs and reporting the ‘matter’ to Anti Corruption Bureau against them and that no funds would be released. It is a fact that the concerned contractors have executed the works in good faith and the cause too is genuine, quality of the work notwithstanding, as really the conditions of roads in the absence of macadam (ization) remains pitiful and pits- full. Agreed, no work should be allotted or undertaken on the basis of no authority from the competent and empowered officers for the purpose and for that purpose, those who allowed these works involving whopping amount of Rs. 500 crores should be made to face departmental inquiry and dished out appropriate disciplinary action as a future deterrent but these contractors should not be subjected to such a type of treatment as they complain out.
We cannot agree to the plea of some Engineers that they could “not be cowed down as they carried out excess work on the instructions of public representatives” since the same smacks of following unauthorised authority for such public works otherwise duly delineated and specified as to who could, under administrative powers, allow and authorise such works against the budgeted allocation as the money was to be paid from the public exchequer. A via- media, however, must be found out to resolve the impasse.