Un­paid con­trac­tors lock govt of­fices across north Kash­mir

Pakistan Observer - - KASHMIR -

BARAMULLA/SOPORE —Af­ter a week-long ten­der boy­cott, building con­trac­tors across north Kash­mir on Fri­day locked all of­fices of the pub­lic health engi­neer­ing (PHE) de­part­ment in the three dis­tricts of Baramulla, Kup­wara and Bandi­pora. Un­der the ban­ner of Con­trac­tors Co­or­di­na­tion Com­mit­tee North Kash­mir (CCCNK), the con­trac­tors as­sem­bled in the morn­ing in front of PHE’s di­vi­sion and sub-di­vi­sion of­fices in Baramulla, Sopore, Uri, Tang­marg, Hand­wara, Kup­wara, Bandi­pora and Sum­bal. They locked the main gates of all PHE di­vi­sion of­fices and did not al­low any em­ployee, from guards to of­fi­cers, to en­ter the of­fices. They in­stalled chairs in front of the gates and sat there to keep guard, en­sur­ing that the of­fices were locked through the day.

The con­trac­tors are de­mand­ing re­lease of their pend­ing dues which to­gether amount to ap­prox­i­mately Rs 400 crore. The con­trac­tors said they had com­pleted all work but it has been years since they have been wait­ing for pay­ment from the gov­ern­ment.

The con­trac­tors said that un­der the ban­ner of CCCNK, they have called for boy­cott of any new ten­der. This boy­cott will be in place till the gov­ern­ment pays all their bills.

“We will not al­low PHE em­ploy­ees and of­fi­cers to open their of­fices any­where in north Kash­mir. Till they as­sure us that the gov­ern­ment will re­lease our pay­ment, we will also protest along with our fam­i­lies on the roads,” said Man­zoor Ah­mad, a con­trac­tor in Baramulla.

Re­ports from Sopore, Hand­wara, Bandi­pora, Uri and other ar­eas also said that con­trac­tors had locked all the PHE’s di­vi­sion and sub-di­vi­sion of­fices in their re­spec­tive ar­eas and held protests in front of them. PHE em­ploy­ees who ar­rived at their of­fices on Thurs­day morn­ing had to go back home when they found the gates locked.

In Sopore, hun­dreds of con­trac­tors of the co­or­di­na­tion com­mit­tee also laid siege to of­fices of the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion, lock­ing down the of­fices of the ex­ec­u­tive en­gi­neer R&B (Roads & Build­ings) and the of­fice of ex­ec­u­tive en­gi­neer PHE.

Pres­i­dent of the North Kash­mir Con­trac­tors Co­or­di­na­tion Com­mit­tee Gulzar Ah­mad Reshi said that the com­mit­tee had have sub­mit­ted a mem­o­ran­dum to the head of the dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion to ad­dress griev­ances of pend­ing pay­ments. He said that pay­ment of bills was pend­ing with the R&B de­part­ment in such schemes as Cit­i­zen town, Earth­quake re­lief, NFB. In the PHE de­part­ment, pay­ments are due for work in schemes like NRDWP and tem­po­rary shel­ters.

Bills were pend­ing in the Ir­ri­ga­tion de­part­ment in schemes like SDRF, flood restora­tion, AIBP, FMP. He said that not just con­trac­tors were fac­ing hard­ship, but also thou­sands of skilled and un­skilled labour­ers.—KR

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