Pashupati Guthi lands in PAC bad books

• No account of 350 ropanis

• Land users evading tax

Kathmandu, November 22:

A sub-committee of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has not been able to account for 350 ropanis of land out of the total 4,422 ropanis owned by the Pashupati Guthi, the trust of the Pashupatinath temple.

The committee has also found out that those using the Guthi’s land for business purposes are not even paying the annual tax to the trust as per agreements.

“We have found out that 4,422 ropanis of land is registered in the name of the Pashupati Guthi, but we could not track 350 ropanis out of the total,” said MP Shiva Kumar Deuja, the head of the sub-committee that was formed by the PAC to study issues related to the Pashupatinath temple.

Organisations not paying revenue as per the agreements are the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), Gaushala Dharmashala and the Til Ganga Eye Centre, according to the sub-committee’s report, which will be finalised by the full committee tomorrow.

“Tara Gaun (Hyatt) Regency Hotel, Dwarika Hotel and Nepal Tele Communication (NTC) are other organisations using the Guthi’s land. However, they are also paying only nominal revenue,” it says.

According to an agreement between the Til Ganga Eye Centre and the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), the eye centre is supposed to pay 25 per cent of its earnings to the trust for using five ropanis of land. However, the centre has never paid any such an amount to the trust till date. The centre is using the land since 1992.

CAAN is also paying only Rs 14 lakh to the Guthi annually for using 1,400 ropanis of land. Moreover, it has given 650 ropanis of the land to the Royal Nepal Golf Club.

The revenue of 14 lakh is a “nominal rate”, which is collected from persons using the land for agricultural purposes, the report says.

The golf club has also encroached upon the government’s land at Mirgasthali and Dhurbasthali. “CAAN has given the land to the golf club without seeking prior permission from the PADT,” the report says.

Highlighting the issues of annual earnings of the temple — which has not been transparent — and inadequate security measures at the temple, the sub-committee has come up with a number of suggestions.

The PAC has suggested giving salary to bhattas and bhandaris (the priests).

The current practice is that the priests take 75 per cent of the total income of the temple, while 25 per cent of it goes to the PADT.