Over two lakh contractors in Maharashtra are preparing to initiate a statewide strike starting November 27, citing the state government’s alleged withholding of bills amounting to nearly Rs 10,000 crore. This move is anticipated to impact various developmental projects across the state.
Milind Bhosale, the president of the state’s contractors association, expressed dissatisfaction, stating that despite sending three inquiry letters before Diwali demanding the clearance of bills for work completed in the Departments of Rural Development, Water Resources, and Water Conservation, the government did not release any funds to the contractors.
In the absence of bill clearance by November 26, the contractors in Maharashtra plan to halt all pending work and commence their strike the following day.
Pending Bills Breakdown:
- Construction and repairs: Rs 1,700 crore
- New roads and repairs: Rs 6,500 crore
- Bridge repair, pothole filling: Rs 1,800 crore
- Village and rural roads: Rs 780 crore
- Sanctioned works: Rs 40,000 crore
- Provision of funds: Rs 4,000 crore
- Number of small contractors: 2 lakhs
Demands of Contractors and Engineers Association:
- Provide full funds to the Public Works Department of the state, covering various account heads from the Department of Rural Development, Water Resources, and Water Conservation to promptly settle pending bills of contractors.
- Introduce a provision for payment of 50 to 65 percent of the budget during the tender process for any developmental work within the state’s departments.
- Cease political interference in the tendering process for development work and implement a transparent system to prevent favoritism toward specific contractors.
- Enforce timely and transparent tender opening during the tender process.
- Mandate the distribution of works within Rs 15 lakh per month to educated unemployed civil engineers and small contractors through a lottery system, adhering to rules.
- Stop imposing conditions such as penalties for time extensions, non-submission of work bills on time, GST invoice requirements, and wrongful specifications in the tender process. Additionally, halt the immediate awarding of work to specific agencies by concerned Executive Engineers.
The impending strike underscores the pressing need for resolution and collaboration between contractors and the government to ensure the smooth continuation of developmental projects in Maharashtra.