Contractors of the Khuga multi-purpose project in Churachandpur district, undertaken by the irrigation and flood control department, torched four generators, a Maruti Gypsy and damaged a culvert at the project site on October 24 in protest against non-clearance of bills.
The police registered cases against the contractors and launched a search to arrest members of Khuga Neglected Contractors Forum. However, none of the contractors could be arrested. The forum has 47 members.
The president of the forum, T. Gangte, condemned the police hunt. “We are only demanding clearance of pending bills. We will call off our agitation once the bills are cleared,” Gangte today said. He said bills for the past three years, amounting to about Rs 3.5 crore, were pending. “We are not terrorists. Why is the government sending the police after us? It will be held responsible if any of the forum’s members are harmed.”
Sources said the employees of the irrigation and flood control department left the project site after being told to do so by the forum.
Security in and around the site has been beefed up after the arson. “We have strengthened security at the project site,” a police officer said.
The incident comes at a time when the government was working overtime to start the project this year. The scheme was conceived in seventies with an estimated initial cost of Rs 15 crore which has now gone up to more than Rs 250 crore.
The project, when completed, will help irrigate 15,000 hectares of land and provide five million gallons of drinking water daily.
Irrigation and flood control minister N. Biren Singh said the government was trying to clear the bills. “We are looking for funds to clear the bills. The contractors should not indulge in violence.”
Source: The Telegraph