Fee row deprives engineers of licence

- GAURAV THAPA, Kathmandu

Mar 8, 2015-

Hundreds of fresh engineers have been left in the lurch as Nepal Engineering Council (NEC), the sole authority to regulate the profession in the country, has been denying licences to fresh graduates of Tribhuvan University’s Institute of Engineering (IoE) for the past 13 months.

Without license, fresh engineering graduates from the IoE’s four constituent campuses--Central Campus, Western Regional Campus, Eastern Regional Campus and Thapathali Campus--have been unable to practice their trade.

“A company recently withdrew its job offer after learning that I did not possess a license,” Sunil Rai, a fresh graduate from Dharan-based Eastern Regional Campus, said. “Nor can I start my own firm in its absence.”

The NEC has been demanding Rs 1,000 per student from IoE citing a provision in its by-laws which IoE has refused to comply with. “The by-law brought without due consultations cannot govern an external organisation,” said Jitendra Kumar Manandhar, Pulchowk (Central) Campus chief. “The council is overstepping its jurisdiction.”

The IoE admits a total of 1,344 students in its four constituent campuses every year. It would have to pay Rs 1,344,000 annually to the NEC if it were to meet the latter’s terms.

The NEC Act 1999, which is the basis for the council’s formation, has no stipulation entitling it to collect fees from engineering campuses. Nevertheless, all ten private colleges affiliated to the IoE have been duly paying the amount. As TU is a government institution, it cannot release the amount without specifically being sanctioned for the purpose by the government.

“We have sought legal advice on the matter and have been recommended against bowing down to NEC’s demands,” Manandhar said. “The council had brought up the same issue in 2009 and again in 2012 but things remained unchanged then.” This time, however, the council seems determined to stick to its guns.

Amid this tussle, the problem of the new engineers has gone without being addressed. Last year, appointment of an engineer to the Local Governance and Community Development Project under the Ministry of Federal and Local Development was halted due to the same license issue. Many others have even been deprived of participation in workshops and seminars.

Sugandha Subedi, who graduated as an architect from Pulchowk Campus last year, is considering legal action along with his friends to bring the issue to a solution. However, he knows his plans are both costly and time-consuming.

“We have been rendered unemployed and lack funds to fight this case. Despite this, we will collect donations from friends in similar trouble and sympathisers and move ahead,” he said.

Despite repeated attempts by the Post, NEC Registrar Umesh Prasad Thani could not be reached for comments.

Published: 09-03-2015 08:33

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