Unpaid bills keep contractors away from works


Enter Anantapur from Tapovanam Junction on NH-44 and you will begin to experience a bumpy ride thanks to lack of road repairs or re-carpeting, not because officials do not have the intention, but because the majority of the contractors are shying away from taking up work.

Unsettled bills of contractors running into crores of rupees for months does not give them enough confidence to take up new works by investing their own funds.

Anantapur district has a network of 4,200 km of State highways, R&B roads, major district roads, and other district roads, but 35-40% of them need immediate repairs like filling small potholes due to regular wear and tear to the major filling of large holes and re-carpeting them to bring a sense of safety among vehicle users on those roads.

Floods

Two major reasons have brought things to this pass – unusually heavy rains in 2020 and 2021 monsoon in the most arid district of the State with a number of incidents of heavy flooding and overflowing/breach of village tanks leading to a considerable damage to roads in some pockets like Yadiki in 2020, Kadiri, Talupula, Mudigubba and Tanakallu during the current monsoon season.

A week ago the Kadiri-Pulivendula State highway breached at three places due to overflowing and breach of three major tanks in the surrounding areas of Odulapalli village in Talupula mandal. “We managed to close the breaches on a war-footing, but such a flood was unexpected and beyond the design parameters, which led to the road breach,” says R&B Superintending Engineer R. Nagaraju.

The State highway starting from its junction with NH-716 near Muddanur in Kadapa district connecting Pulivendula –Kadri – OD Cheruvu – Gorantla – Palasamudram Cross and terminating at its junction with NH-544E at Hindupur in Anantapur district was notified as National Highway 716, but needs immediate strengthening and widening.

For the past two years, there have been only patch works done on an emergency basis in most of the stretches of the important roads.

Works halted

In the Anantapur Municipal Corporation limits, road works with the 14th Finance Commission funds have been done, but ₹12 crore is yet to be released, which has put a stop to ₹25 crore works for which tenders have been finalised. City authorities have identified 120 hotspots on roads that need immediate attention, but none is coming forward to take up the work.

Meanwhile, the R&B has engaged an agency for renewal of State highways for only 30% of the works and contractors are shying away for the rest, waiting for old bills to be released.

The R&B has got funds for repairing 75 stretches on major district roads at a cost of ₹35 crore. An agreement has been arrived at to widen 83.25 km of roads connecting the mandal headquarters with Anantapur city at a cost of ₹128 crore, but work is yet to begin.

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