Print Edition - 2015-07-10 | News
PAC set to probe irregularities
- earthquake relief
Jul 9, 2015-
The Parliamentary Account Committee is set to prepare a separate report on irregularities during rescue and relief operations before recommending action against those involved in misuse of resources.
The committee has instructed its secretary to prepare a comprehensive report based on reports prepared by various state organs including the National Vigilance Centre and ministers’ statement. The committee had earlier grilled senior government officials including Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam and Urban Development Minister Narayan Khadka on alleged irregularities. Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat has so far refused to appear before the committee citing busy schedule.
“We will submit this report to prime minister and the House speaker recommending action against those found involved in misusing state coffers during relief and rescue operations,” said PAC member Ram Hari Khatiwada. The PAC is reluctant to forward its recommendation to the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority in accordance with the legal provision arguing that CIAA officials were also found involved in intervening contract awarding process.
Probe reports prepared by NVC and Urban Development Ministry have pointed out massive irregularities in the purchase and distribution of tents and other relief materials. A probe report from the Urban Development Ministry shows 3,199 tarps were distributed without receipt while 2,332 were provided to several organisations and individuals without disclosing their names. According to PAC members, customs offices have noted that a total of 3.8 million tents and tarpaulins were imported to shelter quake victims. But records show only 1.1 million tents were distributed. It is not clear where the remaining tents and tarpaulins are. Lawmakers suspect many of them are in the market and some were distributed as per the instruction of influential politicians.
Immediately after the April 25 earthquake the government had waived duty on the import of essential relief items to smoothen the flow to the needy. Around Rs1.77 billion was lost in revenue due to the waiver. In Thursday’s meeting, Gautam was asked to make clear where all 1,200 expensive tents received in grant were distributed. Gautam was also asked to clarify on the whereabouts of 69,000 blankets provided by Bangladesh and Rs 12,000,000 for transporting 1,100 tents donated by Pakistan.
Without entering into any issue, Gautam claimed that there had been no irregularity in relief and rescue operations.
Published: 10-07-2015 08:35