Days after R&B was accused by Kashmir based contractors of withholding crores of pending bills deliberately on the closing of just concluded financial year, Contractors on Tuesday have threatened to stop water flow from irrigation canals, saying the department has made them work on ‘unapproved’ projects costing crores of rupees.
Sources in the irrigation and Flood control department told a local news agency, KNS that the department had floated tenders in 2009-10 for expansion and other works in three major canals of valley including Zanageer Canal Sopore, Gramuntoo Canal Kulgam and Lar Canal Budgam for an estimated cost of Rs 155 crore rupees. However the sources claimed that as per the project, 90 percent of the expenditure had been incurred by the union government.
“As per the agreement, 73 crore rupees had to be spent on Zanageer, 50 crore on Gramuntoo and 32 crore on Lar Canal. However, ironically the tenders were floated without projects being actually approved by the Union government”, sources told KNS.
They added that the then engineers and authorities of I&FC department had prepared the projects with so many technical loopholes which were even flagged by the union government. But according to sources, despite the objections and queries by Union governmet I&FC department floated the tenders and allotted works to contractors. “We had been working on the project and nobody told us that these projects were unapproved. At least 50 crore rupees have piled up as liability and they (I&FC) authorities are unmoved.” Contractors told KNS, adding that non release of crores of liabilities has brought them on roads and they are close to bankruptcy.
“We are finished. 50 crores is not a meager amount. They have duped us”, claimed the contractors, adding that almost 40 percent of the work has already been completed.
Sources in the department have also told KNS that the concerned engineers had been tricky over the years. They said that the authorities had been releasing the installments to contractors out of the 10 percent state share without letting anybody know that nothing was coming from 90 percent of the central government share.
“Union government raised so many objections and queries, despite that, they continued with the work and finally the axe has fallen on poor contractors”, said the sources, demanding an enquiry against the concerned engineers.
Meanwhile Minster for Irrigation and Flood control Sham Lal Sharma while indirectly denying any action against the concerned authorities told KNS, that his ministry would seek PCC Chief Prof Saif fud din Soz’s help to get the withheld funds from the union government.
“We will get nothing by digging the graves. Let we move forward and strive for the release of funds from union government”, Sham Lal told KNS on Tuesday evening. He added that his ministry had already taken up the matter with the union government, and it was intending to use Prof Saif ud din Soz’s influence also to make the release of funds possible.