SRINAGAR, February 20: Former finance minister Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Thursday urged the Lieutenant Governor G. S Murmu to clear liabilities of contractors who earnestly redeveloped almost whole of the infrastructure of Jammu and Kashmir especially after 2014 floods.
In a statement issued here, the former minister observed that the works for which the claims of contractors are being projected are duly allotted works of different departments and have undergone scrupulous physical verification ordered by the previous governor led administration in Jammu and Kashmir.
“All the governments work in continuity. A sheer change in dispensation does not necessarily change or stop the functioning of incumbent regimes. So fulfillment of commitments made by the previous governments is one of the important mandates of the present dispensation. Clearing liabilities of contractors which is pegged at around Rs 500 Crores is one of such commitments made by successive governments including last Governor led administration in J&K,” Bukhari remarked.
The former finance minister said that around 30000 contractors had reposed their trust in the previous governments and worked tirelessly for re-developing and revamping of shattered infrastructure in J&K especially post 2014 floods. He said the flood ravaged infrastructure of essential sectors in both divisions of Jammu and Kashmir like PWD, education, healthcare, PDD, PHE, irrigation and flood control, consumer affairs and public distribution and so on were made functional again with the help of these contractors.
“It is highly unfortunate that these contractors are still being unceremoniously kept moving from pillar to post to get their payments cleared by the government. I call upon the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor to intervene into the matter and address the genuine grievances of this important section of the society,” Bukhari demanded.
He observed that the contractors whose bills are yet to be cleared are in a dismal economic situation thus unable to liquidate their loans raised against the allotted works. “Liabilities of the contractors across Jammu and Kashmir have piled up unnecessarily and the contractors have been left high and dry for want of money,” Bukhari averred.
The former finance minister recalled that after 2014 floods, within a record period of time, around 6400 kilometers of roads were redeveloped and macadamized, 360 small and big bridges were reconstructed and around 800 breaches from Khanabal to Chattabal Veer were taken up in both divisions of J&K by these contractors and target was accomplished by them on war footing basis.
“Despite the government of India’s liberal funding for rehabilitation of flood affected people and reconstruction of infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, one wonders why the contractors have been left craving for settling their claims,” Bukhari said, while adding that all successive governments including the governor led administrations have been roping in contractors to rebuild the damaged infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir.
The former finance minister appealed the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor to release funds for clearing liabilities before the commencement of new financial year so as to enable these contractors to repay their debts and loans availed from various banks on compound interests.
Bukhari said that the delay in payments of contractors was attributed to incomplete physical verification but since the process has been completed last year, the government must clear this pendency without any further delay.