Kathmandu, May 3
A market monitoring team led by Babu Ram Bhusal, under secretary at the Ministry of Supplies (MoS), has found a number of irregularities at the Amlekhgunj Depot of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC).
In a letter addressed to the chief secretary, a copy of which was obtained by The Himalayan Times, National Consumer Forum (NCF) — which was part of the monitoring team — has drawn attention to various abnormalities in the Depot and called for strict action against those engaging in cheating the general public.
During the inspection on Friday, the team found that the two weighing bridges — that are used to weigh the loaded and unloaded tankers — flow metre and calibration towers have not only not been checked by Nepal Bureau of Standards and Metrology (NBSM) for years, but have not even been put to use.
“This is in direct violation of the Standard Measurement and Weight Act, 1968,” says the letter. Moreover, the Act has also clearly stated that equipment used for measurement need to be checked and receive a stamp of approval every two years.
“The fact that a fully state-owned organisation is flouting the set rules is a criminal offence,” says the letter.
It further states that the findings were similar to that reported by a different monitoring team, which had carried out its investigation nearly two years ago.
While the government has repeatedly directed NOC to increase its storage facility to ensure smooth supply of petroleum products in the market, the inspection team has cited that the corporation has failed to do so until now due to its own weak management system and rules.
NOC has set a certain loss target for the depots and the staff have to perform within that target. Since the concerned depots would have to bear the responsibility of loss due to fluctuation in the temperature, the staffers are hesitant to maintain the stock, the letter says.
“Because of this, the supply continues to be erratic time and again.”
Hence, the team has called on the government to look into the issue and provide necessary direction to NOC.
The team had also looked into the complaint of fuel tankers sent by NOC to the dealers supplying at least 200 litres less fuel per tanker. “While the corporation has repeatedly reasoned that the disparity is due to different modes of measurement adopted by Indian Oil Corporation and NOC, the fact is that fuel is measured in metric tonnes in both countries and the excuse has no validation.”
Stating that the corporation staff have been taking ‘organisational benefit by hoodwinking the general public for years’ the team has called on the government to bring the guilty to the books.
The monitoring team also comprised of Monitoring Officer at Department of Supply Management and Consumer Protection Deepak Pokharel and NCF President Prem Lal Maharjan.
Copies of the letter have also been sent to MoS secretary and chief of National Vigilance Centre.
A version of this article appears in print on May 04, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.