Money

House panel tells CIAA to probe NOC land deals

  • financial irregularities
- Post Report, Kathmandu
NOC has been accused of misappropriating funds totalling Rs800 million when buying land valued at Rs1.61 billion in Bhairahawa, Chitwan, Sarlahi and Jhapa to build fuel storage facilities

Aug 5, 2017-The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has ruled that there have been irregularities in Nepal Oil Corporation’s (NOC) controversial land purchase deal and directed the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to investigate and take action against those involved.

NOC has been accused of misappropriating funds totalling Rs800 million when buying land valued at Rs1.61 billion in Bhairahawa, Chitwan, Sarlahi and Jhapa to build fuel storage facilities.

The state-owned oil monopoly started the process of purchasing land in all seven provinces following the government’s instruction to maintain stocks of fuel equal to 90 days of consumption.

NOC has been charged with inflating prices and misappropriating funds totalling Rs568 million while buying land in Chitwan and Jhapa districts.

Similarly, it has been charged with misappropriating Rs150 million and Rs80 million respectively while buying land in Bhairahawa and Sarlahi districts.

Moreover, the plot it has bought in Bhairahawa lies close to the banks of the Rohini River and is susceptible to being inundated when the water level in the river rises. NOC has purchased 14.35 bighas of land at the site at the rate of Rs1.07 million per kattha. The actual market price of the land there is reported to be only Rs150,000 per kattha at the most.

PAC Chairman Dor Prasad Upadhyaya said the parliamentary committee found the purchase process to be defective in a number of aspects.

“First, NOC has completely disregarded the direction issued by the parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee to construct fuel storage plants only on state-owned land,” Upadhyaya said. Upadhyaya said the House panel’s study showed that buying land through middlemen at inflated prices was also unlawful.

“In addition, NOC has disregarded the regulations under the Land Acquisition Act 1977 to obtain undue benefits,” he said.

Apart from PAC, a number of government bodies including the parliamentary Finance Committee, parliamentary Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committees and CIAA have been scrutinising NOC’s land purchase deal. The anti-graft body has confiscated related documents from NOC and started its own investigation.

NOC defended its actions saying that it had called for tenders as a fast track approach to purchase land. It said that it planned to build a retaining wall to prevent floodwaters from entering the land it has bought.

Published: 05-08-2017 08:10

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