Dasara contractors still waiting for last year's dues

Dasara contractors still waiting for last year's dues

For Tafazzul Ahmed, a general contractor residing in Mysuru, transporting Dasara elephants from the various camps to Mysuru and back every year is a matter of great pride and prestige.

He’s been carrying out this exercise for the Forest department for the last 15 years. This time, however, Ahmed is doubtful about his participation in the Dasara festivities.

Like most other contractors, Ahmed is still waiting for the government to settle his bills.

Ahmed, who owns the National Enterprises, had submitted two bills on October 26, 2017 for transporting the elephants (Rs 2.75 lakh) and constructing waterproof sheds for mahouts/kavadis of elephants at the Mysuru Palace (Rs 8.14 lakh).

“The government is yet to settle my bills. I have taken loans and my business is suffering. Transporting the famed Dasara elephants is a matter of prestige for me. For the first time in all these years, I was hesitant to participate in the tender process,” he says.

Almost all contractors that DH spoke to said they were told that the delay in payment was owing to lack of funds in the state coffers.

Roopesh G, who owns Mahatma Tailoring Hall in Mysuru, had supplied around 35 to 40 uniform kits to the mahouts and kavadis last year.

“I had spent Rs 3.05 lakh for supplying the kits. But each time I approach the Forest department or the district administration, I get the same response -- that there is no money in the government,” he added.

Santhosha A, proprietor of Indira Canteen and Event Management, Mysuru, said that he has incurred heavy losses over the last few months as the government has not paid his dues amounting to over Rs 8 lakh. He has been catering food for the festivities for the last three years.  

The government, which had allocated Rs 15 crore for the Dasara festivities last year, has released around Rs 4.5 crore. While sources said that the government was yet to release Rs 10.5 crore, Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Abhiram Shankar said that the pending amount stood at around Rs 6 crore to Rs 7 crore.

Mysuru district incharge Minister G T Devegowda said, “The chief minister had assured that the pending amount will be released without fail. I will take up the matter again with him. The contractors need not worry,” he added.

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