Row in govt publishing firm

MADHYAPUR THIMI: Though the Janak Education Materials Centre (JEMC) earlier denied publishing books in India, it has been revealed that about four millions textbooks were published in the southern neighbour.

The JEMC last year had agreed to publish all books in Nepal, following severe protests from different sectors. But this year too it was found to have published textbooks from India, according to sources.

"The JEMC published the books at 22 paisa per page in Sahitya Publication in India. It costs no more than 17 paisa a page here," a JEMC officer told this daily on condition of anonymity. According to him, the management committee had signed a secret agreement with the publication house in March to publish four millions books for Grade VI to Grade X.

"Birendar Kumar Das, managing director of the JEMC, also provided Rs 6 million in advance to the publication house," he said, adding that the books published in India were of low quality, erroneous and not in proper size. The books reportedly entered the country via Sunauli.

Ram Binaya Shrestha, president of the employees' association in JEMC, accused the management committee of assigning the publishing works to the Indian publication house for the sake of commission. "The publication house in India even didn't have its own press. Despite having skilful manpower and modern printing press, the management committee outsourced the printing job for the sake of commission," he alleged. He also called upon employees to protest such activities aimed at draining the organisation.

According to sources, the JEMC incurred a loss of Rs 30 million by publishing books in India.

Fourteen of the 17 printing press installed in JEMC are operational at present. The JEMC also has a security press that was installed this year with the support of donor community.

The JEMC has also hired a generator to publish books during power cuts. But the generator has rarely been used. The JEMC has been paying Rs 2.5 lakh every month as rental fee for the generator, according to the employees.

However, Birendar Kumar Das, shrugged off the allegations and said that they had outsourced the printing works only to the printing presses authorised by the Department of Commerce. He also said the JEMC could not supply books on time because of load shedding, bandh and other problems.

Bimal Aryal, director of the JEMC, echoed Das. "But some printing presses were found to have published books from India," he added. Aryal also claimed there was no scarcity of textbooks this year, as they have published more textbooks to meet the demand.