Probe confirms irregularities in NOC land acquisition deals

Kathmandu, August 24

The probe initiated by the Committee on Commerce, Industry and Consumer Welfare Relation of the Legislature-Parliament has found the involvement of financial irregularities in the land that the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) recently acquired for the purpose of developing fuel storage facilities.

Following allegations from all quarters, including the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislature-Parliament, on misappropriation of funds by NOC while procuring land, the Commerce, Industry and Consumer Welfare Relation Committee had recently started a probe on the issue. The committee had deployed its lawmakers and the committee’s Secretary Sudharsan Khadka to the districts where NOC had procured land meant for developing oil storage facilities.

NOC has been facing criticism for purchasing land at a highly inflated rate compared to the actual value of the land that it has procured for fuel storage facilities.

Though the committee’s probe panel is yet to present its report, lawmakers who are currently in different districts to probe the NOC scam have said that they have found all the charges levelled on NOC to be true.

“We have found that NOC has breached the Land Acquisition Act while purchasing land and has also purchased land for the development of fuel storage facilities in unreliable areas paying much higher rate for the land as compared to its local value,” said lawmaker Subash Chandra Thakuri.

The committee has been collecting the field report of NOC’s land acquisition scam from Chitwan, Bhairahawa, Sarlahi and Jhapa, among other districts, where the NOC has procured land.

Khadka informed that NOC was found to have paid up to Rs 1.5 million for plots of land in Chitwan and Bhairahawa whose local value is only around Rs 300,000. “The agent selected by NOC was found to have paid Rs one million to the owner of a piece of land that costs less than Rs 300,000 and valued the price of land at Rs 1.5 million to NOC,” he said.

As per Khadka, the probe panel will prepare its report within a few days. “If required, we might recommend immediate action against all NOC officials involved in the land procurement scam.”

Meanwhile, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has been probing issue since almost a month. However, it is yet to come up with its final probe report.