NOC officials are likely to be in the soup
The Nepal Oil Corporation and its boss Gopla Khadka are now in the soup after the media exposed their irregularities amounting to Rs 670 million in the procurement of pieces of land in Rupandehi, Chitwan, Sarlahi and Jhapa districts for Rs 1.61 billion.
The corrupt officials have purchased lands, mostly in the river banks, by paying higher than the actual prices in Jhapa, Rupandehi, Sarlahi and Chitwan districts. Last week the Rohini River was seen running on the land the NOC had purchased in Rupandehi which only proved that the NOC had purchased riverbed to build oil storage.
When the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has already asked the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to conduct detailed investigations and take action against those involved in the controversial land procurement deal, the Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare has decided to conduct an on-site visit of the land purchased by Nepal Oil Corporation for petroleum storage in four districts.
When the parliamentary committees are preparing to conduct on-site visit, the NOC officials may not be able to avoid punishment this time.
The parliamentary Committee on Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare on Sunday decided to send a group of lawmakers elected from the four districts where the NOC purchased the land in controversial deal for inspection. The officials, including its general manager of NOC, have come under media and parliamentary scrutiny for buying land paying several times higher for the land.
The NOC is found guilty of buying land situated on the river banks which can be swept away or inundated any time. As the news of the NOC's land purchase scam started making headlines, general manager Gopal Bahadur Khadka was reported to have issued threats to a journalist who wrote about the NOC's land purchases and other news items related to it. Not only that the NOC officials paid higher prices than the actual cost of the land, they also purchased more land than needed with the sole intention of swelling up their own wallets. The Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare found that the NOC purchased four Bighas more land than the area approved by the Board of Directors paying double of the prices. In a report the Committee said that the NOC had purchased more than the approved land in four districts while it was in the process of buying more land in other districts as well.
The Board of Directors has permitted to buy 15 to 20 Bighas of land in Jhapa but the NOC officials bought more than 24 Bighas of land. Likewise, in Bhiarawa it purchased 27 bighas against approved 15 bighas.