Probe holds PWD responsible for delaying contractor's payment



Panaji: A magisterial probe into the suicide of a contractor has held the state PWD officials responsible for delaying payment of his bills saying that the timely payment could have saved him from taking drastic step.

Vishwas Harmalkar, a contractor with Public Works Department, had committed suicide by hanging himself in May earlier this year, after he was reportedly neck deep in debts due to non-payment of bills by the department.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had initiated a magisterial probe after a suicide note indicated that he was burdened with the bills pending with the PWD.

The department had held back his bills of around Rs one crore.

Amarsen Rane, a senior government official, who conducted the inquiry, has accused PWD of harassing the contractor.

"Due to the alleged harassment caused to him (contractor) by the PWD officials, he was under heavy stress and psychological tension during the last one year, which ultimately prompted him to take the drastic step of ending his life," the report mentions.

The contractor was awarded the construction of the new building for a police station at Pernem and a government primary school at Ponda.

The report, which runs into 40 pages, has fixed responsibility on three senior officials - executive engineer Rajiv Pandit, assistant engineer Allan Pereira and technical assistant Mahesh Kenaudekar, and has recommended that their role should be investigated through an inquiry committee.

Rane has recommended that there is a necessity of systematic improvement in functioning of PWD in the matter of execution of work and payment to the contractors.

The report has pointed out that there was a delay in preparation of the bill and subsequently payment of the deceased contractor's dues.

PTI