Patna, Oct. 20: The civic body’s plan to clean Chhath ghats has hit a roadblock with some contractors deciding not to take up any new assignment of Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) until their outstanding bills were cleared.
Not a single bidder has come forward for the cleaning job four days after the civic body floated tenders. Around 12 contractors working under the corporation have jointly decided not to bid for the work.
Ramkumar Pandey, a contractor who had carried out ghat cleaning work in the New Capital circle area last year, told The Telegraph: “PMC owes me Rs 40 lakh for the work I have done for them in the past one-and-a-half years. They did not pay me a penny last year although I was awarded the work to clean nine ghats for Rs 3.3 lakh. Now I have absolutely no money to spend on new assignments. The same stands true for the other contractors working for the civic body. So we have decided not to take up any PMC work.”
Claiming that cleaning Chhath ghats was a tedious task, another contractor said: “The ghats along the Ganga are very dirty and it takes lot of money, manpower and effort to clean them. But PMC has absolutely no regard for our work. Last year, its officials made a huge fuss over our work. They have not cleared our bills yet. Officials are sitting on the files. The situation is so bad that we are in a hand-to-mouth situation and neck deep in debts. We are not in a position to work for them now.”
Some officials in the civic body said the contractors had resorted to “blackmailing tactics” as they had not been paid for the development works they had carried out in various wards. “While it is right that contractors should be paid for the work they have done in the past one year, they should not resort to pressure tactics like this,” said a senior official.
Despite the contractors’ reluctance, senior PMC officers claimed that the ghat clean-up work would start soon on a war footing. “There are 14, 20 and 48 ghats in PMC’s New Capital, Bankipore and Patna City circle, respectively. Estimate of Rs 11.21 lakh, Rs 6.2 lakh and Rs 22.74 lakh has been prepared for the New Capital, Bankipore and Patna City circle, respectively. Agencies have been invited for bidding. Things will start rolling soon,” said Chandrama Singh, the additional PMC commissioner (planning and development).
“Sixteen high-mast lights have installed at Chhath ghats. More lights will be put up in the days to come. Engineers have been deputed to keep an eye on works to be carried out at the ghats. We have allotted 10 labourers each for big ghats and five for smaller ones,” Singh said.