SRINAGAR: The shortage of bitumen, a key ingredient of macadam, is likely to hit the government’s ongoing large-scale road macadamisation project, while the hot mix plant owners fear financial losses.
Against the requirement of 3,500 MTs for completion of the Rs 300-crore macadamisation project this fiscal, only 80MTs arrive in Kashmir division daily. And the quantity, as per the hot mix plant owners, is “grossly insufficient”.
“Of the targeted (Rs 300-crore) work, till date macadamisation process worth Rs 125 crore has been completed. For the remaining part, we don’t have the raw material (bitumen) to make macadam,” Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Contractors Coordination Committee (JKCCC), Ghulam Jeelani Purza, told Kashmir Reader on Wednesday.
The shortage, he said, has rendered 40 of the 70 hot mix plants in the division idle. A metric ton of bitumen costs around Rs 52,000 and has to be imported from oil refineries in Panipat or elsewhere, he said.
“Some of the main plants here have exhausted their stocks and are now facing problems both in completing the undertaken works and in keeping their units operational,” Purza said.
“If the supplies are not restored soon, the ongoing macadamisation project may need to be stalled,” he said.
Mir Farooq Ahmad, a representative of the Hot Mix Plants Association, sees technical as well as financial reasons behind the raw material crunch.
He said: “As a norm, the state would procure bitumen every year through its Stores and Procurement Department and stock it at the central store Pampore. Subsequently, the raw material was supplied to the plants for work. But this year, the government abandoned the practice due to dearth of funds.”
This year, he said, the government asked the plant owners to procure bitumen with financial assistance from J&K Bank.
“But the bank refused to cooperate citing technical reasons. Besides, we also don’t have the money to make the purchases, for the government hasn’t been paying us on time,” Mir said, expressing dismay over the Minister for R&B Syed Mohammed Altaf Bukhari’s threat to cancel licences of the noncompliant hot mix plants.