Nagpur : Contractors working with VIDC staged dharna demanding their long pending payments, in a press release issued today member of VIDC said that allegations and misquotes in media has hold up VIDC contractors legitimate payment.
Below is a Press release
Vidarbha Irrigation development Corporation is the nodal agency for tapping optimum Irrigation potential in the otherwise cash trapped back ward areas of Vidarbha. Over 600 registered Contractors ranging from category 9 to 1-A, thousands of sub-contractors, piece workers, and suppliers of materials & machineries and lakhs of workers were working on these projects besides thousands of Engineers, other Officers, technical & non-technical staff, etc. Irrigation works are the largest cash for work programme which has generated employment opportunity for both men and women, educated and un-educated, skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled through out the lengths & breadths of Vidarbha. Since 2001-2002, VIDC has spent about Rs. 14,000.00 crores on construction works on more than 320 projects and created 5.09 lacs hectares of Irrigation potential out of the projected 15.62 lacs hectares which is 32.59%. Out of the above, 243 projects would have been completed within one year if proper budgetary provision and speedy sanction of revised administrative approval were granted and properly planned and executed. Had there been proper planning, co-ordination and sufficient budgetary support, the creation of potential would have improved much and the agricultural scenario in Vidarbha would have drastically changed. Establishment and overhead charges would have also been saved. The expenditure required for all the 243 projects which are on almost completion stage may be around 3,000.00 crores. When the media points out that Rs.600 crores have been paid to Contractors as mobilization advance, they are neither aware nor conveniently forget that mobilization advances were paid to individual Contractors on furnishing sufficient Bank guarantee and charging hefty interest over PLR and already Corporation has recovered more than 850 crores including interest along with principal.
Gosikhurd is the biggest Irrigation project in Vidarbha which would have augmented the Irrigation needs of Nagpur, Bhandara and Chandrapur Districts besides supplying water to thermal power stations. The dam is completed in all respects and ready to store water to its full capacity. But storing of water to its full capacity of 245 mtrs is hampered for want of rehabilitation of PAPs who demand their rehabilitation as per National rehabilitation policy 0f 2007 which has not yet taken force as a law. If this policy is implemented, the Government will be burdened by an additional huge amount which would have further escalated the Project cost. When lift irrigation systems have not yielded desired results throughout the Nation, Tekepar and Ambora lift Irrigation system is completed and it is functioning excellently. This success story is not being highlighted. This prestigious project alone has created Irrigation potential of 36000 hectares out of the designed projected potential of two lacs fifty thousand hectares and irrigated more than 7000 hectares of land. The excellent quality of work and the graceful ambience of dam and connected canals, it is attracting huge number of tourists. The apathy of Government is the only reason for the present slow progress of completing the project making the Contractors to suffer for which the Contractors are no way responsible. This is the only National project in India which has not received payment for the last 18 months on one disguise or the other.
In response to certain allegations, a special quality assurance team visited Gosikhurd Project in November 2009. They were satisfied with all works except certain patches of works in LBC which is less than 0.0012% of the total cost and they have advised to rectify the same at the cost and risk of the Contractors which was promptly accepted by the concerned Contractors and the rectification works are in progress. VIDC has withheld more than 5 times the amount required for the rectification works from their payments of other works for the same. Despite all odds, the Corporation and the Contractors were working round the clock to complete the project by 2013-14 as per schedule. But, now, all the works have come to a grinding halt due to non-payment of Contractors for their pending bills.
Unless the project affected persons are rehabilitated, impounding of Gosikhurd reservoir to the designed level of 245 Meters cannot be done. Neither Irrigation through canals nor supply of 100.00 mm3 water to the much acclaimed NTPC’s thermal power plant at Mouda could be done as per their agreement unless storage is done upto designed level. Had the commissioning of NTPC’s 2320 MW Super power thermal project been done, it would have mitigated the power shortage of Maharashtra.
On the back drop of unleashing allegations and enquiries, the Contractors have not received payments for the past 18 months. Our members have borrowed money from Banks, private money lenders, markets, etc. on hefty interest to complete the works with in the stipulated period so that the designed potential could be created and Irrigation carried out and save the poor cultivators from suicides. Due to the inordinate delay in receipt of payments, several Contractors were forced to sell out their plants & machineries to clear part of their market liabilities. Some Contractors have even sold/pledged their wife’s mangalsutra ornaments which are considered as the most sacred one. Now, being Diwali ahead, and the crises of the Contractors will deepen if they do not clear their market liabilities prior to these festivals. They are afraid that if their Bank loans are not cleared immediately, their properties including residences which they have pledged as securities may be auctioned as per SARFESI ACT. Over 600 Contractors are being penalized for their sincere and excellent quality of work for the alleged sub standard works in very few patches of linings of one or two Contractors which they have already started rectifying at their own cost and risk and five times the repair charges are already with held. Lakhs of workers, suppliers of several construction materials, equipments, machineries and other connected people are on war path for their long pending dues. If the dues are not cleared before Diwali, we apprehend that they will not spare the Contractors which will be suicidal to the Contractors.
We have written several letters and have frantically requested VIDC with whom we have entered into individual agreements to make payment of the pending bills as it is the bounden duty of the Corporation to make payment to the Contractors in time as governed by relevant clauses of the agreement. In our case, VIDC has totally failed to honour their own commitments. We have also appealed to Shri. K. Sankaranarayanan, His Excellency The Governor of Maharashtra, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Hon. Prime Minister of India, Shri. Pawan Kumarji Bansal, Hon. Minister for Water Resources, Govt. of India besides concerned Hon. Ministers of Maharashtra for their kind intervention in giving us due justice. We held several meetings with the Executive Director & senior officers of VIDC. They are tight lipped and non- committal about payments. We have also requested people’s representatives belonging to ruling and opposition parties. We do not understand the logic behind holding the payments of all innocent Contractors depriving them of their fundamental rights to earn their livelihood through sincere works by labeling alleged poor quality of works in less than 0.0012% of the total works against which the VIDC has already with held more than 5 times anticipated repairing cost from their other works. When every body are very keen on alleging that 0.0012% of works are defective, they conveniently show their blind eyes on the balance 98.88% of excellent works carried out by our Contractors. More over, the Government is fully equipped with all powers as per agreement to deal with every case of unsatisfactory work. We dare all the complainants and the media to actually see the works and verify the facts before leveling baseless allegations. The VIDC and the Contractors are morally depressed and nobody dares to work in VIDC. Due to baseless allegations, already the development of Vidarbha has retarded by 10 years.
If the legitimate payment of our members are not released before Diwali, Our Contractors may be constrained to go in for indefinite strike as they feel suitable.