CIAA starts probing possible graft in NOC land purchase deal

File - A view of Nepal Oil Corporation Limited Central Office, in Babarmahal, Kathmandu, on January 4, 2017. Photo: Suresh Chaudhary/THT
File - A view of Nepal Oil Corporation Limited Central Office, in Babarmahal, Kathmandu, on January 4, 2017. Photo: Suresh Chaudhary/THT

Kathmandu, August 1

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority today said it had started investigating possible corruption in the Nepal Oil Corporation’s land purchase deal.

The anti-graft constitutional body said it had directed the NOC to furnish all documents related to the land purchase deal for constructing oil storage facilities.

“We have started preliminary investigation into alleged corruption at NOC,” said CIAA Spokesperson Jib Raj Koirala.

He further said the CIAA was not in a position to say anything about corruption at this stage.

The NOC came under the CIAA scanner for alleged irregularities while buying land in Chitwan, Bhairahawa, Sarlahi and Jhapa.

The House panels also started probing possible irregularities in the NOC’s land purchase deal.

The Finance Committee of the Parliament today summoned NOC officials and demanded all documents related to the deal. The committee also formed a sub-committee under Abdul Razzaq Gaddi to probe the entire deal.

Similarly, the Public Account Committee of the House has also directed NOC office bearers to be present tomorrow with all the related documents.

Earlier, the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of the Parliament had summoned NOC Managing Director Gopal Bahadur Khadka and Ministry of Supplies Secretary Prem Kumar Rai to inquire about the deal.

MD Khadka told THT that the corporation had followed due process and also consulted local level representatives while purchasing the plots to build fuel storage depots. He said the NOC had purchased private land, as it would take long time to acquire public land.

“The process of procuring plots was transparent and would provide all related documents to the CIAA and the House committees,” said Khadka.

Secretary at the Ministry of Supplies Prem Kumar Rai, who is also chairperson of the NOC board, said that the ministry had directed the NOC team to procure land after fulfilling the process of the Public Procurement Act.

The state-owned petroleum company had started the land purchase process to build oil depots in all seven provinces, as per the government directive to maintain fuel stock for at least three months.

The NOC had allocated Rs 6 billion to procure land plots in all seven provinces to build storage facilities.

It was reported that the NOC paid over four times the market price to purchase plots of land to build the fuel depots.

The corporation has purchased 23 Bigaha land in Jhapa district, 23 bigaha in Bhairahawa and 14 bigaha in Chitwan.