Non-payment of bills of R & B contractors

For more than five years, those contractors engaged by Roads and Buildings Department for various developmental works which they have undertaken and executed across Jammu and Kashmir have been moving from pillar to post for clearing their works bills amounting to over Rs.500 crore but still they continue to be just waiting and just only anticipating that, perhaps, sooner than now any later, their woes would be over. After exhausting all possible means of being favourably heard by the authorities, they even occasionally staged dharnas, held protests etc in both the capital cities but of no avail. Mere assurances, that too from some authorities have proved just tactics of buying time and letting the problem remain unsolved. We have been articulating their view points about the entire ‘bone of contention’ if there could be any, in such a huge liabilities not cleared in their favour by the Government nor denied that the works executed and completed by them having not been actually done as claimed by these contractors. However, it is surprising that the present Governmenteven has not taken some pragmatic decision in favour of these contractors. How could such a situation involving whooping amount of Rs.500 crore owed by the Government’s R&B department to these contractors be afforded to remain unsettled, is the moot question.
If there has been any departure from the usual procedures and practices reminiscent of undertaking of such works as reported by these contractors, we feel while that should have, in principle, been avoided but whether these contractors were wholly responsible for that goof, needs to be analysed instead of allowing the situation to remain unresolved. We learn that most of these contractors have borrowedmoneyspentby them on the said developmental works in anticipation of getting reimbursed from the Government. Some favourable decision, therefore, is what is demanded and arising out of the seemingly complicated situation , instead of the concerned contractors decided to be left in the lurch . Who is responsible for passing on verbal instructions and received by various authorities in the said department from some former Ministers and Legislators during PDP- BJP rule in Jammu and Kashmir for undertaking such works? Why were such verbal instructions not got converted into due authority and authorisation for undertaking of such works and who were responsible for committing such procedural lapses but not daring getting verbal instructions authorised only perhaps to remain in good books of such Ministers? That exercise should have been completed , if not much earlier, but why not now?
In any case, we feel these contractors should not be made to suffer any longer and thus continue to undergo agonies of unending wait and ‘uninsured’ anticipation of resolution of their problems involving money owed by Governmental agencies. And, they are not demanding their dues and rights just without any reason or ground. We understand that these liabilities were allowed to bepiled up over the years without any efforts to keep provisions for them in the budget allocations of the R&B department which seems quite astonishingly interesting . While such works comprising repairs of roads and bridges damaged during 2014 floods in Kashmir and elsewhere followed by works of repairing and black topping of dilapidated and damaged roads in both the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu and in major towns across Jammu and Kashmir are not denied , why their bills are not paid.
There are certain pertinent questions. Where are those political leaders on whose instructions it is said that these contractors undertook and executed various works? Why should they not exhibit probity and sincerity by openly coming out and supporting them? The Contractors Associations have, after getting no concrete assurances from concerned Executive Engineers and even Chief Engineer of R&B Jammu , met the Lieutenant Governor who had reportedly assured them that by ending March 2020, their bills would be cleared but why even as on date , the situation is as it was? We feel, it was right time, now, to take a decision in the matter instead of keeping it in utter dormancy.