In a clear warning to the state government, the Andhra Pradesh High Court has directed the State government to clear pending NREGS bills of contractors immediately. The HC also directed the government to pay 12% interest per annum for the delay in clearance of bills.
The interest should be paid from one month of the submission of NREGS bills to the government, the HC said. After hearing 1,013 petitions of NREGS contractors seeking directions to the government to clear the pending bills, Justice B Devanand issued the order.
Suspending the memo issued by the Panchayat Raj Department to stop clearance of 21% of bills in District Computer Centres and 6.33% of bills in Mandal Computer Centres (MCCs), Justice Devanand said it was against the law and Constitution.
The government had stopped payment of bills to the contractors without any reason or power to do so and it amounts to violation of the Right to Live. Steps need to be taken by the Centre to incorporate provisions in the relevant law to pay interest for the delay in payment of NREGS bills, the Judge observed.
Justice Devanand said though the petitioners had submitted bills to the government, no inquiry was pending against the works executed by them and the Centre released 75% of its share, the contractors were not paid their dues.
The contractors could not get the payment because of the acts of the officials and they should be reasonably compensated for the loss incurred by them, the Judge said, directing the government to pay 12% interest per annum as compensation for the delay in clearance of bills.