Contractor waits for five years to get payment of ₹15 lakh

A civil contractor, who had constructed individual toilets for homes in Veppanthattai and V. Kalathur panchayats in Perambalur district, is waiting for settlement of dues amounting to ₹15 lakh from the State government for the past five years – despite a Madras High Court order to the government to make the payment within 12 weeks.

The government had awarded the contract to Pitchai Pillai for constructing toilets at homes in the panchayat areas under a campaign to prevent open defecation in rural areas. The contractor had built 146 toilets in V. Kalathur panchayat between 2014 and 2016. Despite repeated reminders, he received payment of ₹3.97 lakh for 34 toilets only. He contacted the Block Development Officer to get the rest of the payment but to no avail.

So, in April 2019, he moved the High Court which directed the government to make payment with 18% interest. In all, the government owed him ₹15 lakh. But, still, the money was not paid. He had to sell his piece of land to pay the moneylenders since he borrowed money for interest.

A Kathir, executive director of Evidence, a non-governmental organisation based in Madurai, said that this is a new kind of crime unleashed against the Dalits. It is atrocious on the part of the authorities. When the court had directed the government to make the payment, the officials did not comply with it. “We will file a contempt petition and pull up the officials,” he said.

The State government should order a thorough probe into the non-issuance of payments due to contractors as very recently there were media reports alleging a mega scam behind such non-settlement of dues in Perambalur district during 2015-18, he charged and urged the new government to check the nexus between officials and politicians.

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