Kathmandu, August 2
Lawmakers have alleged the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) officials to have been involved in rampant corruption while purchasing land in different provinces to enhance the petroleum storage capacity in the country.
Moreover, lawmakers associated with the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature-Parliament today urged the committee’s Chairman Dor Prasad Upadhyay to immediately form a probe panel and investigate the entire land acquisition process of NOC.
“Lawmakers have verified the value of land that NOC has purchased for developing fuel storage facilities in different districts and the actual valuation of the land is over three times lower compared to what NOC has paid for the land,” stated lawmaker Dhan Raj Gurung. He alleged the NOC Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka and all its staff to be involved in corruption at the PAC meeting held today.
Informing that lawmakers have themselves found NOC paying up to Rs one million for a piece of land which costs around Rs 300,000 in different districts, Gurung stated that there is huge corruption and a ‘commission-game’ involved in the land procurement process initiated by NOC. “NOC has been repeatedly accused of irregularities and now the committee should seriously investigate every financial procedure related to every project initiated by NOC,” he added.
NOC has recently been charged with huge financial irregularities while purchasing land plots across the country. In collaboration with land agents, NOC has been
reported to have purchased land plots paying more than three times the market price of such plots.
For instance, NOC had paid up to Rs 1.3 million for one kattha of land on the banks of Rohani River in Bhairahawa whose actual market price is around Rs 500,000 per kattha.
The NOC had allocated Rs six billion for the acquisition of land in different provinces to develop fuel storage, out of which NOC has already spent Rs 1.5 billion to purchase the land in Jhapa, Bhairahawa and Rupandehi, among other districts.
NOC has been charged of financial irregularities worth almost half the amount spent for land purchase so far.
Similarly, lawmaker Ramhari Khatiwada challenged NOC officials, including its Chief Khadka, to prove these accusations false.
Other lawmakers present at the meeting also alleged NOC to have been cheating other stakeholders by intentionally paying higher amount for a low-cost land plot.
However, NOC Chief Khadka challenged the PAC and its lawmakers to prove the accusations of wrongdoings in the land acquisition process by NOC in different districts. “The land acquisition process has fully complied with legal procedures and NOC has purchased land plots only after getting the details of the value of the land from local units of the government,” he said.
Moreover, Khadka said that the daily accusations on NOC for all its activities are humiliating to its officials. “If there is any doubt in NOC’s land purchase deal then we are ready for any other government agency to provide us the required land to build the storage facilities. We will transfer the allocated budget for land purchase to that agency directly,” he asserted.
A version of this article appears in print on August 03, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.