The Military Engineer Services Builders Association of India informed on Monday that if the Defence Ministry does not clear pending dues of ₹2,000 crore, then construction of hangars for the Rafale fighter jets will be affected.
The work is about 40-50 per cent complete and the project was scheduled to be completed by April-May. However, it had been warned that if the dues are not cleared, the construction work will be halted.
The first batch of Rafale fighter jets is scheduled to arrive in September.
“We are making the hangars in Ambala and Hasimara. In the past seven or eight months, the work has slowed down, and in the past two or three months, it has stopped because of a shortage of funds. We have been continuing work by taking loans. Now banks are refusing loans,” The Hindu quoted Praveen Mahana, president of the association, as saying at a press conference.
₹1,600 crore was due as payments as on December 2016, according to the association’s members. The dues now stand at approximately ₹2,000 crore.
According to Azeeaulla Khan, senior vice-president of the association, as quoted by The Hindu, the members of the association had met Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last year before Diwali and the Defence Minister had promised to release some funds. However, only ₹250 crore was released, out of which a major chunk went to two major projects under the Southern Command.
The Engineer-in-Chief had informed on January 16 that ₹250 crore would be released in a few days but on January 18 the association came to know that the funds were diverted to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
According to The Hindu, Mahana has said that they would stage a protest outside Parliament and stop all their work if the payment is not received in the next 15 days.