Entry fee at Pahalgam goes to contractors’ pocket, not to the state exchequer

Entry fee at Pahalgam goes to contractors’ pocket, not to the state exchequer

By ZIA-UL-HAQ/ SHAFAT MIR
ANANTNAG: Call it administrative failure or official-contractor nexus, municipal committee Pahalgam (MCP) has failed to recover the lease amount from a private party to whom it had outsourced the toll post five years ago.
The MCP has been outsourcing the toll post near Nunwan to private parties for last several years.
At the post, the main source of revenue generation for MCP, toll is collected from private and passenger vehicles entering the tourist spot. As per the tender notifications issued by MCP the qualifying contractor is supposed to deposit the entire lease amount at the time of the allotment of the contract.
However, sources in the MCP said that the authorities have failed to recover a major portion of the lease amount from the contractor since 2011 causing considerable loss to the state exchequer.
“For the past six years, the MCP authorities are yet to recover at least Rs 11 lakh from the contractor,” an official posted at MCP said wishing not to be named.
The top officials, sources said, in nexus with the contractors break their own set rules while leasing out the toll post. “As per the rules the contractor has to deposit the amount at the time of taking up the contract but the officials at the helm, after entering into a deal with the parties, give them a free hand in depositing the amount. After paying some little amount initially the contractors pay rest of the amount out of the collected toll in installments,” an insider told Kashmir Reader.
He said that even the man who was allotted the contract last year has failed to pay the whole amount.
“Te last year’s contractor owes at least Rs 25 lakh to the MCP. No doubt the mass uprising last year hit the toll collection but that does not justify failure of authorities to recover the lease amount. You can accommodate the contractor next year on humanitarian grounds but you can’t violate or relax the rules for someone’s benefit at the cost of the state exchequer,” said another official.
Secretary MCP, Bashir Ahmad admitted that the contractor whom the toll post had been leased out in 2011 still has the outstanding of Rs 10,75,000 and the one who had taken up the contract last year owes around Rs 25 lakh.
“We have written to the authorities on the outstanding amounts. We received a cheque for Rs 14 lakh from one of the contractors but it bounced,” Ahmad said.
(With inputs from SHAFAT MIR)

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