As the state government is adamant on inclusion of three-year maintenance guarantee clause on all future tenders for construction and black-topping of roads in Jammu and Kashmir, a strong lobby of contractors is making efforts to ‘sabotage’ the directive to prevent action against them, if found using poor quality material.
A source in the Public Works Department (PWD) said contractors were using ‘political links’ to alter the rider so that they could escape responsibility for their wrongdoing.
Sources said due to resistance, black-topping and repair work may get further delayed across the state.
“There is a nexus between some corrupt officials in the Roads and Building (R&B) Department, who swindle crores of rupees in allotment of tenders. Then there are political considerations as a majority of contractors have close links with politicians cutting across parties and they are not in favour of such arrangement,” said a senior official of the R&B Department.
Road construction is considered a goldmine for the people who use political contacts to get work as reward for extending help to MLAs and ministers during the elections.
After the devastating September floods last year, projects worth crores are yet to be executed and tenders will be floated soon.
Minister for Public Works Syed Altaf Bukhari said his department was determined to go ahead with the new rule. “If contractors will not accept our clause, they will be blacklisted. Time has come to fix responsibility in cases of malpractices. So far, about 40 per cent of the contractors in the Valley have accepted this while 30 per cent in Jammu have given their consent,” said Bukhari.
The successive state governments boast of laying thousands of kilometres of roads, but a majority of them are not suitable for travel due to poor use of material. Even in capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu, road travel is a nightmarish experience.
“We do not have problems with it (guarantee clause) but some people want to stop its implementation. The government must mention specifications of material to be used while undertaking road construction works,” said Balwinder Singh, president, J&K Contractors Coordination Committee. Balwinder said there was a strong lobby in Jammu which did not allow new people to take up any work.