Babu-netas deny quota benefit to SC/ST contractors

Babu-neta nexus denies quota benefit to SC/ST contractors

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The people's representatives and officials in local administrations have come up with a few tactics to deny compulsory reservation for SC/ST contractors in projects below Rs 50 lakh.

In order to deny contractors from the communities from claiming 24.45% reservation in these projects, authorities are learnt to have either floated tenders slightly above Rs 50 lakh or split the project into 10 piece-works, work orders for which are allegedly issued without tenders.

Owing to complaints, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has issued a circular to list all projects below Rs 50 lakh at the beginning of the fiscal, and randomly select 24.45% of the projects for SC/ST contractors.

N Mahadevaswamy, president of Karnataka State SC/ST Contractors Association, said that authorities had devised these measures to bypass contract reservation ever since the state government made it mandatory in June 2017. “According to the government order, 17.5% of the works are reserved for Scheduled Castes, while 6.95% is reserved for contractors from Scheduled Tribes. But it is being denied due to manipulation by authorities who are in cahoots with local panchayat members,” he alleged.

The Association has now urged the government to increase projects where reservation is applicable to Rs 1 cr. “Authorities float tenders for Rs 51 lakh or Rs 52 lakh or split projects costing Rs 50 lakh to smaller piece-works,” he said. These works which will be below the amount required to float a tender are then sanctioned to contractors of their choice, so as to deny SC/ST contractors, he alleged.

Piece-works are in violation of government directions which prohibits it, as they incur additional expenses, Mahadevaswmay added. Apart from it, smaller projects were also clubbed together to increase the project cost beyond Rs 50 lakh.

Based on these complaints, the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has issued an order prohibiting the same. “If projects costing less than Rs 50 lakh is clubbed as a package, SC/ST contractors do not get reservation benefit. Therefore, all projects below Rs 50 lakh should be listed in the beginning of the year, and measures should be taken to ensure 24.1% of the projects are selected via randmoization and reserved for SC/ST contractors,” according to directions issued by L K Atheeq, Principal Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department.

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