Bitumen contractors to stall work citing ‘corruption, wrong policies’ of Ludhiana MC
Compounding troubles for the Ludhiana municipal corporation (MC) and the Congress ahead of the assembly elections, bitumen contractors in the city have announced to boycott road construction projects in the city citing “corruption and wrong policies adopted by the civic body for allotment of such projects”.
During a meeting held at a hotel on Ferozepur Road on Tuesday, members of Ludhiana Hotmix Plant Welfare Association said projects worth around ₹200 crore will be affected if the MC failed to take corrective measures. These include the projects which have already been allotted by the MC besides those for which tenders have been floated.
Among their other concerns is the condition imposed by the MC wherein the bitumen contractors have been directed to quote and complete the road construction projects within 6% lesser amount in comparison to the estimate prepared by the civic body.
President of the association, Vinod Jain said, “It is not feasible for a contractor to complete the project and earn a marginal profit by quoting 94% of the estimated amount. We need to quote at least 98% of that amount. The government has fixed the estimates for completing different works and tenders are floated online. Even if a contractor submits a bid to complete the project in one percent lesser than the estimate amount, the MC has no right to force him to quote at least 6% lesser rate as the contractor has got the tender by quoting the lowest amount among other bidders. If the contractor does not quote the lower rate, then the contract is given to some other contractor of their choice.”
The contractors, including association’s chairperson Amrik Singh, vice-president Bhagwan Das and Sunil Kumar among others, stated that due to the “prevalent corruption” in the MC, tenders were not allotted to the lowest bidder, but the second lowest bidder in “exchange of commission”. They also claimed that the projects under the Smart City Mission were being given to the contractors who did not even meet the requirements.
“If any contractor raises objection, officials initiate a process to blacklist him. Security amount submitted by contractors in the last two years has not been refunded even after the completion of projects. MC officials even ask for a commission for releasing the payment for completed works. We will not operate the hotmix plant until the issues are resolved. We also urge Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh to take corrective steps and initiate action against corrupt officials,” Jain added.
‘Public representatives also involved’
The association of contractors alleged that public representatives, especially from the Congress, were also involved in the nexus due to which, no action was taken against officials. Without naming anyone, the contractors said that they had also submitted a complaint to the mayor in the past, but to no avail.
Will not succumb to pressure mounted by contractors: Mayor
Accusing the contractors of looting the MC by forming a pool and quoting lower rates for road construction projects and further employing tactics such as a boycott, Ludhiana mayor Balkar Sandhu said the civic body will instead use ready mixed concrete for road construction projects and would not succumb to the pressure being mounted by the contractors.
“The bitumen projects will be converted into ready mixed concrete ones after approval in the F&CC meeting. The MC might have to spend a little more, but we will neither compromise with the quality nor allow the contractors to loot the hard-earned money of the taxpayers,” he added.
Public to face harassment
With residents already facing inconvenience due to poor condition of roads in different parts of the city, the tussle between the civic body and the contractors is further set to harass the public as the road projects will get delayed.
Deep potholes can be seen even on main roads of the city, including Gill Road, Dugri Road, Model Town-Jawaddi Road, Haibowal, Giaspura and BRS Nagar areas among others, while waterlogging during the rainy season adds to the woes of commuters.