CAAN DG furnishes clarification to MoCTCA

Kathmandu, September 15

Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Sanjiv Gautam today submitted his clarification to the Ministry of Culture,Tourism and Civil Aviation, claiming that the allegations levelled against him were baseless and there was no ground to remove him from the post.

“I have submitted a 22-page clarification with 1,700 more pages of supporting documents in response to an 11-point memo sent by the minister,” Gautam told this daily. According to him, all the allegations against him were baseless.

As per a sub-section of Section 19 of the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority Act, Minister Jitendra Narayan Dev, also chairman of the CAAN board of directors, yesterday asked Gautam to clarify within three days why the government shouldn’t remove him from the post of director general. Gautam was appointed CAAN DG in May 2015 for a four-year term.

Though Gautam refuted all allegations, MoCTCA had studied all the documents and evidences before seeking clarification from him, a senior official claimed.

A number of issues, including poor handling of the under-construction national pride projects such as Gautam Buddha International Airport and his involvement in corrupt practices, among others, prepared a solid ground for the ministry to seek clarification from Gautam, he added.

For instance, while purposefully not allowing Nepal Airlines to lease an Airbus from Bhutan Airlines and causing avoidable hardships to the flag carrier and passengers on grounds of extant provisions of the civil aviation policy on prohibition against importing aircraft older than 15 years, CAAN chose to close to its eyes by allowing Shree Airlines to fly in three Canadair Regional Jets which were very close to the designated age limit of 15 years, a ministry official said.

Most of the officials at the aviation regulatory body were also unhappy over Gautam’s intervention in allowing Shree Airlines to operate the old planes. “Under his leadership, there was no discipline in this purportedly multi-disciplinary organisation,” a senior officer said.

Apart from the unending fiascoes at Tribhuvan International Airport improvement project, Gautam also favoured the Chinese contractor and its sub-contractors who delayed the construction of GBIA in Bhairahawa, the ministry official said.

“CAAN leadership, using his political clout, allowed the Chinese contractor to illegally appoint a subcontractor namely Nirvik Chitrakar Khanal, son of former premier and CPN-UML leader Jhala Nath Khanal,” he added. The dispute between China’s Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group and sub-contractor Khanal has almost thrown the Rs 6.30 billion project in limbo.

Gautam, however, said that most of the decisions were made by the CAAN’s board chaired by the minister himself. “There’s no point in raising the finger at me,” he said.

Acting Secretary at the ministry Suresh Acharya confirmed that Gautam submitted his clarification to the ministry this afternoon, just a couple of hours before the three-day deadline ended.

“The ministry will take further move only after studying his reply,” he said.