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Contractor accuses education department of not releasing payment on time

Phuri Sherpa, a local contractor involved in the construction of Rongli secondary school under Pakyong district, has alleged Education department of not paying her for the construction work. Sherpa, who finished the a phase of the allotted work in March earlier this year, has been running to the department ever since but, she claims, the bureaucrats keep declining her payment.

Addressing presser at Gangtok stated, “The Education department issued tender notice for 105 school buildings in September 2021. In January 2022, work order was provided. However, after completing first phase of work in March 2022, the accounts section of the Education department said there is no money right now. If the department doesn’t have money then why do they issue tender notice for new work?”

On the condition of Rongli School, she stated, “The school is in a landslide-prone area. There are no classrooms for students due to which we contractors and workers are under pressure for completion of the work. We are helpless as we have put all our money in the work and until the department doesn’t release the bill then the work will not be completed.

Further,Sherpa, after not getting her payment, filed an RTI against the Education department. “After an RTI, I found that Rs. 8 crore from the allocated budget was already distributed in an uneven manner. Some of the contractors without completion of even 50% of work have been provided with half of the allotted money. Likewise, there are few contractors who are not paid even a single penny for the work.”

Sherpa came heavy upon the State bureaucracy claiming they are making a fool of the government. She stated, “I am also a wife of a government servant and they are paid to work for us but when we visit office during office hours they are not in office. They do incline on getting monetary favours in order to get our bills approved. There is no denying that such corruptive practices are still prevalent. If someone like me refuses to agree to their monetary demands and whims, my file for payment doesn’t get forwarded for approval.”

Sherpa informed that contractors are facing difficulties in returning the overdraft borrowed from the banks. Welcoming the new Public Demands Recovery Bill, she stated, “The recovery bill is a welcome step taken by the government to recover loan amounts taken by the public. But even for that Act to find a strong foothold, people like us who are keen on making the payment, cannot make the payment as the payment order is yet to be approved. I feel that now is the time for the department to release all its pending bills so that we can return the money that we owe to the bank.”
Sherpa asserted, “If the department keeps fooling us, the contactors, we will be compelled to carry out hunger strike and protest if necessary. I suppose that is the only way we can get our due payment.”

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