Chandigarh MC financial crisis: Now, public health contractors threaten to stop work
The financial crisis in the Chandigarh municipal corporation has further deepened, threatening to hit various services and maintenance works further, with around 50 contractors engaged mainly with the public health department warning to stop work over their pending dues.
The contractors, under the banner of Chandigarh Contractor’s Association, met MC commissioner Jitender Yadav on Friday and submitted a memorandum, demanding release of their payments to the tune of around Rs 20 crore within a week.
However, the meeting bore no fruit as the MC commissioner gave the contractors no assurance on clearing their pending payments anytime soon.
As reported by HT last month, road contractors have already stopped work due to Rs 20-crore pending payments. Acknowledging that the MC’s total liability to contractors is over Rs 40 crore, Yadav told HT that at present the civic body is not in a position to clear it.
The MC has nearly exhausted its fixed deposits, that were once Rs 400 crore in 2013.
It happened because there has been no increase in the MC’s share in the UT revenue, which has remained constant at Rs 269 crore in the past two year. In fact, the civic body is not getting more than 10% share in the UT resources against 30% mandated under the finance commission’s latest recommendations.
Meanwhile, the MC has also failed to increase its revenue from internal resources. It may further lose Rs 15 crore annual revenue if the parking lot contract is cancelled.
To hit services
These contractors are engaged by the MC for running tubewells, booster stations and pump houses besides cleaning toilets and maintaining stormwater drainage and sewage lines. They are also taking care of water pipelines, which often develop leakages due to high water pressure during summers.
“The city’s water supply will be hit if we pull out our men from these jobs. But we will be forced to take this drastic step if the MC doesn’t listen to us,” said a contractor, Atul Setia, who has pending payments to the tune of ₹1 crore for the last quarter.
Harpreet Singh, who was leading the contractors, said they are facing a hard time to pay salaries to their staff as the payments are pending since February.
“During the meeting, we told the MC commissioner to start releasing partial payments so that we can at least pay our employees and meet other operational expenses. But the commissioner did not give us any assurance,” he said. “We will be forced to stop our services if payments are not resumed by next week.”
Another contractor, Karamjeet, who provides manpower to the civic body, questioned how he could pay his staff without getting timely payments from the MC. “In such a scenario, it is difficult for us to work. The MC should understand our problem,” he said.
Accusing the MC of wasteful expenditure, contractor Rahul Rana said on the one side the civic body claims empty coffers and on the other its councillors often go for study tours, spending public money. “They also splurge money on various functions,” he said.
A section of contractors also blamed mayor Davesh Moudgil for not improving the MC’s financial condition.The mayor could not be reached for comments. Meanwhile, former mayor Arun Sood said: “The city will plunge into crisis if the issue with contractors is not sorted at the earliest. The House must deliberate upon the matter in the upcoming meet later this month.”
Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla said the MC plunged into financial crisis because of the BJP’s failure to get adequate share for the civic body from the UT revenues.
“They will have to answer the city residents on MC’s bankruptcy-like situation,” he said.