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Emaar MGF has not paid us: Ahluwalia

As the Delhi Development Authority’s announcement of a Rs 700-crore bailout for Emaar MGF makes the realty major a beneficiary of the first such government bailout...

Contractor fears company ‘might not release money towards this project’

As the Delhi Development Authority’s announcement of a Rs 700-crore bailout for Emaar MGF makes the realty major a beneficiary of the first such government bailout,other facilitators of the Commonwealth Games Village project claim they are yet to receive payments due.

While it has been a week since the DDA released Rs 200 crore to Emaar as the first instalment of the bailout,Ahluwalia Contracts,the main contracting agency looking after the Games Village project,says it is yet to receive all pending dues from Emaar and fears the company “might not release the entire bailout money towards this project.”

Ahluwalia Contracts maintains that only one third of their total dues have been cleared since Emaar received the bailout money. “The company owes us over Rs 90 crore. We have,however,received a mere 30 per cent of the total amount. Although our officials are in constant touch with Emaar regarding the same,the real estate major has been dilly dallying over the issue,” an official at M/s Ahluwalia Contracts told Newsline.

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Asked if the real estate company has come out with a definite mechanism to channelise the bailout money towards pending dues and the overall project,an Emaar MGF spokesperson said: “The Commonwealth Games Village is a project of national importance for Emaar MGF and our topmost priority is to deliver it on time.”

DDA officials told Newsline that the civic body had directed the chief engineer of the Games Village project to monitor its progress and that the remaining money would be released in accordance with the progress.

Workers at the Games Village site,meanwhile,have been working without any wages for over two months now. While some of them were paid a certain amount in the first week of March,many others said they have been waiting for wages since January.

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“While I and a few others who work in the same tower were paid in March,there are many who have been waiting since January. When we asked for payment,the contractors told us that the Company (Emaar MGF) owes Ahluwalia Rs 100 crore. That’s why they have not been able to pay us,” Mahesh Kumar,a worker,said.

Kumar hails from Purnea in Bihar and works as a plumber in one of the 36 towers at the site. “We had been told we’d be paid in May. Almost half the month is over but we are yet to get any money. If we are not paid by this weekend,we have decided to go back home and look for work there,” he said.

“We will be paid tomorrow,our contractor has said. But I do not want to get too excited till I actually get the cheque,” Deepak,a native of Katihar in Bihar,said.

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“I have a 10-month-old son to look after. My wife and I have not been paid since January. We got money from our village to survive but even that amount is dwindling. How are we supposed to live?” he asked.

Workers say they were forced to go on strike on March 4 earlier this year to demand for payments. “Around 50 people in my department went on strike. The contractors say we will be paid soon. Today,all the contractors have gone to the city to find out about the payments,” Sandeep,from Rajasthan,said.

“Many workers have already left. While the company brings in new workers on daily-wage basis,the old ones are all leaving one by one,” one of the sub contractors said.

There are 36 subcontractors working on the 36 towers at the site. “Most workers work seven days a week without a break or monetary compensation. They are not given basic safety equipment except a helmet,and neither are they issued identity cards or pay slips. Many are not even registered with the monitoring agency — which means they cannot avail of any health insurance or other benefits,” the sub contractor said.

Ahluwalia Contracts,the civil contractor for the project,admits it has not been receiving full payments from Emaar MGF for the last five to six months,and that it managed to pay workers till January using its own funds.

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Emaar MGF,however,has denied it owes money to Ahluwalia Contracts. A company spokes-person told Newsline through email that payments were being made “on a continuous basis.” “As and when bills are raised,payments are being processed,” the email states.

First published on: 15-05-2009 at 01:15:56 am
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