KOLLAM: The pilgrimage to Sabarimala this season may not be smooth for lakhs of devotees as the government contractors have decided to boycott works in connection with the pilgrim centre. This is in protest against authorities’ failure to take action against the culprits behind the suicide of two contractors in Kollam last month. The all-Kerala government contractors association will lay a siege to the Pathanapuram block office on September 18 demanding action against an assistant engineer allegedly involved in the suicide of contractor Santhosh Kumar there.
“The officials abetted the contractors’ suicide by stalling their funds. We will continue with the strike until the authorities act. So far, we have boycotted tenders worth Rs 350 crore by the government departments,” said Mr P. Pradeep, association district secretary.
Two contractors committed suicide in the district within a span of two weeks owing to the apparent denial of payment by the authorities. A. Augustine alias Benoy, 43, of Mattathil house, Aryankavu, class-A contractor with the PWD, was found hanging inside his office at Aryankavu on August 15. The district administration had allegedly failed to sanction two bills of Rs 59 lakh for the works done by him. He also owed `7 lakh under the river management fund for which he had approached the Kollam collectorate for over seven months.
Ten days after the death of Augustine, another contractor, Santhosh Kumar of Kottimanoor house, Karavoor, Piravanthoor, committed suicide allegedly due to delay in the payment for a concrete road under flood works. The contractors blame an assistant engineer with the Pathanapuram block panchayat for abetting his suicide as he had allegedly denied him the bills for the works completed eight months back.