KOCHI: The development works being carried out by the corporation have come to halt after the Kochi Corporation Contractors’ Association (KCCA) decided to stop them in protest against the non-payment of bills amounting to `97 crore.Though the KCCA had announced a strike two months ago in protest against the failure on the part of the civic body to clear the arrears, they have nonetheless been carrying out crucial works, including road maintenance and canal restoration, KCCA members told TNIE.
The association has now decided to completely stop the works after Mayor Soumini Jain at a recent meeting decided not to clear the pending amount of even Rs 5 crore. The decision has jolted residents since the contractors were in the final lap of implementing several works. “A discussion was held with the mayor recently. We asked her to settle the arrears pending in 2017. But the mayor insisted that the corporation has to foot other expenses. Unfortunately, the corporation is not ready to pay us the arrears. Since we have no option other than to stop work,” said K A David, KCCA.
The contractors alleged that the lackadaisical attitude on the part of the corporation has pushed them into a deep financial crisis.”We do not want to slip further and further into a loan trap by continuing the corporation’s works without having our dues cleared. We have families to take care of. Only 10 days remain for clearing the amount since the notification for the civic election could be issued anytime soon,” he said. adding, the association will not undertake any new civil works until the issue has been fully resolved.
David said the corporation has enough money in its coffers to settle the dues. Mayor Soumini said the corporation is ready to clear the Rs5crore arrears as promised. “But the KCCA has to end the strike with immediate effect,” she said, adding, the corporation will not give in to pressure tactics. “It is not possible to clear the entire arrears at one go. We have to evenly distribute the Corporation’s revenue,” the mayor said.According to her, the civic body has to mobilise nearly Rs5 crore every month for settling the bills of contractors. “The salary of corporation staff and other expenses need to be paid using the revenue,” said Jain.
Patience runs out
KCCA had announced a strike two months ago in protest against the failure on the part of the civic body to clear the arrears, but they have nonetheless been carrying out crucial works