Saffron mission contractors stop work to demand dues
Srinagar: Contractors associated with the sponsored National Mission on Saffron have ceased to work for non-payment of their dues.
The Rs 400-crore project, meant to better the saffron production by way of providing quality seeds and uninterrupted water supply, is being looked after jointly by the Agriculture and Mechanical Engineering departments.
While the Agriculture Department distributes the seeds to farmers, Mechanical Engineering Department has employed experienced contractors for laying pipes and digging bore-wells.
As per the contractors, however, no mechanical work has been going on for the last nearly four months.
“We have completed 80% of the work, but we are pushed to the wall. Our payments have been withheld for quite a long time,” a contractors, who was part of the group that visited The Kashmir Monitor, said.
They said the department owes around Rs 20 crore to about 13 of them.
“At present, we are not doing any kind of work, as we are not able to purchase the required goods or pay our labourers. Our savings have exhausted,” said proprietor of Bio Care Techno Solutions (BCTS), Raqib Yusuf.
They said about 20 per cent of the work was incomplete.
“We will not resume the work until our dues are cleared,” said a contractor, Mir Ishtiaq.
“The authorities shall not test our patience. We can go to any extent.”
Director Agriculture, Aijaz Andrabi, said he would look into the matter.
“I have directed the Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO) to release the payments a month ago, but some technical issues have been coming in the way. Hopefully the payments would be made in a few days,” he said. “The work has been on a halt for the last two months.”