BJP MLAs oppose e-tenders, bat for small contractors

Many legislators of the ruling BJP and opposition Congress have opposed e-tenders for contracts worth less than Rs.25 lakh, saying the plan will hit Uttarakhand’s small contractors hard

dehradun Updated: Dec 17, 2017 20:18 IST
Anupam Trivedi 
Anupam Trivedi 
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,e-tenders,BJP MLAs
Small contractors had played pivotal role in opening the Kedarnath valley after the 2013 deluge, says a Congress MLA. (HT File)

Many legislators of the ruling BJP and opposition Congress have opposed e-tenders for contracts worth less than Rs.25 lakh, saying the plan will hit Uttarakhand’s small contractors hard.

Works worth above Rs 25 lakh are awarded through e-tenders in the state. Following the Centre’s footsteps, the state government decided in August to go for e-tendering of all development works, even of less than Rs 25 lakh, to ensure transparency.

Thousands of small contractors will fail to get works if the government goes ahead with e-tendering, said Umesh Sharma ‘Kau’, BJP legislator from Dehradun district. “The works carried out with MLA funds involve small amounts, say Rs 1-2 lakh. The contractors engaged in these works get a source of income to support their families as there are a few options for livelihood in the state,” Kau, who switched to the BJP from the Congress last year, told HT.

Cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat held a meeting with legislators last week on behalf of the chief minister, and told officials to hold the e-tendering process for the time being. Ritu Khanduri, a first-time BJP legislator and daughter of former chief minister BC Khanduri, said she was not against the idea of e-tendering but was “interested in knowing the procedure for the same.”

The idea did not find favour with Gopal Rawat, BJP legislator from Gangotri. Ruling party legislators got support from the Congress camp.

Manoj Rawat, Congress MLA from Kedarnath, said small and local contractors had played a pivotal role in opening the Kedarnath valley after the 2013 deluge.

“How can authorities ignore the role of small contractors? Moreover, the works awarded to big contractors are ultimately executed by these so-called small contractors.” Rawat told HT.

In Rudraprayag district alone, 10,000 local contractors are registered, said Shatrughan Negi, president of the contractors’ association. He demanded that works up to Rs 1.25 crore be awarded through manual tenders as it was the practice before July this year.

“E-tendering is open to participants whose annual turnovers run into crores. The locals fail to meet the criterion and therefore are left out,” Negi said.

The flip side is that with the state government deciding to increase MLA funds to Rs 3.75 crore, the legislators will have more say in sanctioning works in their constituencies. “Such works are usually done by the party workers and it’s a win-win situation for both,” said Indresh Mailhuri, a senior Left leader. “Several party workers double up as contractors. They earn and share benefits,” he alleged.

First Published: Dec 17, 2017 20:18 IST