PAMPORE: State Procurement department (SPD) in Kashmir division has left the steel worth Rs 8 crore to rust at its divisional office Pampore Pulwama.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that the steel was kept idle after government decided to stop procurement and allowed contractors to procure material directly from market on turnkey basis.
Deputy Director SPD Kashmir, Shafaat Ahmad Jeelani told Kashmir Reader that since the procurement of constructional material has been stopped by government they have yet to receive any new order.
He added that SPD was once sole agency for procuring materials that was needed for different constructional purposes of the state.
“The department once procured every sort of materials that were required by different departments particularly in construction,” he said, “the department was dealing in four types of materials including Bitumen, steel bars and iron angles, TMT bars and cement but presently their mandate is limited to supplying only iron TMT bars.
Jeelani told Kashmir Reader that they have sold steel worth 18 lakh rupees during the last year while asserting that department would be revived only if government would issue a circular stressing department to procure from SPD.
The department has strength of 150 employees presently who have almost become workless due to government’s decision to stop procuring the material for departments from SPD, he said.
He added that the livelihood of more than 20, 000 people working as labourers also got affected due to the government decision.
Saying that SPD was stressing on standard quality of raw material which was supplied to government departments, Jeelani said that the procured material was being checked through three tier inspection processes.
“First a SPD would check the material which was to be procured and then a third party inspection was done and finally the committee of departmental engineers would inspect the procured material,” he said, adding that SPD was known for quality and timely delivery.
Meanwhile, the New Zaffron truckers association president Gulzar Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that the procurements were stopped after some officials of the department were accused of embezzling about four crore rupees in 2015.
However Ahmed said that government should punish the accused not the labourers who earned their daily livelihood by just loading and unloading material.
“If they cannot revive the department they should provide alternatives livelihood to those affected labourers,” he said, adding that government should take a decision about their livelihood or else they will be forced to come on roads.
Meanwhile, police has lodged an FIR number 132/2015 under section 409 on 17-8-2015 and produced chalan in local court against four accused employees of the department, a police official told Kashmir Reader.
The fraud was detected after a shortage of 648 ton material worth 1.75 crore rupees surfaced in the department,” a police official said.