Tainted NOC boss Khadka moves to buy more land

- Rajesh Khanal, Kathmandu

Oct 12, 2017-

Controversial Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka has moved to buy additional land in Chitwan despite still facing embezzlement charges in earlier land deals that recently led to his being fired from his post.

Shortly after being reinstated by the Supreme Court, a defiant Khadka has gone ahead with his scheme, telling the Post that he had prioritized building oil storage facilities in Chitwan.

NOC has already bought more than 23 bighas of land in Rapti Municipality-1 in Chitwan district. The state-owned oil monopoly paid Rs750 million for the land.

“NOC needs another 20 bighas of land to build an oil depot,” said Khadka adding that he would consult with the NOC board before initiating the land purchase process.

Khadka has been accused of inflating land prices and misappropriating funds amounting to more than Rs800 million while buying land in Chitwan, Jhapa, Bhairahawa and Sarlahi to build oil storage facilities.

Following the charges, the Cabinet sacked Khadka from his post on September 18. He contested the allegations and the Supreme Court gave him his job back on Sunday.

According to Khadka, NOC has given priority to building storage facilities in Chitwan as the Raxaul-Amlekhgunj oil pipeline, on which construction work is expected to begin soon, has been planned to be extended up to Luthar, Chitwan from the previously fixed location of Amlekhgunj.

“We have talked with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) which has agreed in principle to provide technical support to construct a depot in Chitwan,” Khadka said.

NOC and and its sole supplier IOC have been jointly working to expedite the petroleum pipeline. Of the estimated cost of the project of Rs4.4 billion, IOC will be providing Rs3.2 billion as a grant. According to Khadka, NOC will bear the additional cost of extending the pipeline from Amlekhgunj to Chitwan.

The proposed Raxaul-Amlekhgunj pipeline is expected to reduce transportation costs by as much as 50 percent, control leakage and ensure hassle-free transfer and quality of petroleum products. “If a depot is built in Chitwan which is the final destination for oil shipments from India, it will help reduce transportation costs further,”  Khadka said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Supplies said it had not received any proposal from NOC to buy more land. “The ministry has approved NOC’s annual budget and authorised its chief to buy the land necessary to build oil depots.

NOC has already bought land under this authority, and it will need to obtain fresh authorisation to buy more,” said Supplies Secretary Krishna Prasad Devkota. “However, NOC is free to build storage depots as per its work plan.”

Devkota, who also heads the NOC board, said that the state-owned enterprise cannot launch a bidding process to acquire additional land. “NOC has to strictly follow the Land Acquisition Act if it wishes to buy more land,” Devkota said. 

Khadka had got into trouble while attempting to buy land under the competitive bidding process.  

Published: 12-10-2017 08:19

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