Kathmandu, September 13
The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation today asked Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal Sanjiv Gautam to clarify within three days why the government shouldn’t remove him from the top post of the country’s aviation regulatory body.
Minister Jitendra Narayan Dev, who is also the board chairman of the CAAN’s board of directors, sent an 11-point memo seeking clarification to Gautam this afternoon as per a sub-section of Section 19 of the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority Act.
The sub-section states that notwithstanding anything mentioned in Sub-section 2, the Government of Nepal may, if it so desires, remove the director general from his post even before his/her term expires. Sub-section 2 reads that the tenure of the director general shall be of four years, and s/he may be eligible for reappointment if the Government of Nepal so desires.
According to a highly-placed source at the MoCTCA, the director general has been asked to clarify on a number of issues — regulatory to operational in nature. DG Gautam has been blamed for delay in construction of international airport in Nijgadh, a regional international airport in Pokhara and also his failure to resolve issues with the Chinese contractor in the under-construction Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa.
Gautam has also been charged with not using the airport development fee for upgradating Tribhuvan International Airport. The minister, in his letter, also expressed his dissatisfaction with the DG’s inability to check rapid encroachmenton its land in Bhaktapur from where Civil Aviation Academy operates. “Why has CAAN ended its contract with Constructora Sanjose resulting in chaos in TIA?” the minister asked. In December, CAAN terminated a contract with the Spanish firm after it failed to complete a multi-million dollar project at the TIA on time. The minister also criticised CAAN and its DG for TIA’s improper response in dealing with the situation resulting from fuel spillage in March. Nepal Airlines aircraft spilled more than 6,000 litres of aviation turbine fuel during maintenance carried out at an improvised yet unauthorised aircraft stand (Parking Bay 11).
Gautam was appointed CAAN chief in May 2015. Though his leadership has been criticised for a number of regulatory and operational loopholes at CAAN, Gautam is credited with getting the country’s aviation sector removed from International Civil Aviation Organisation’s list of significant safety concerns, an airlines representative recounted.
Gautam understands that the minister has sought his clarification to prepare grounds for his removal. “As Sub-section 3 of Section 19 of the Act has been used to seek a clarification, it shows the minster’s intention,” he said, adding that he would reply before the deadine ended.
According to sources, MoCTCA Joint Secretary Suresh Acharya and TIA’s General Manager Devanand Upadhyay have been lobbying ruling party leaders to grab the most lucrative top post in the aviation sector, as CAAN sits on unspent billions of rupees for long.
- Blamed for delay in construction of international airport in Nijgadh, a regional international airport in Pokhara
- Failed to resolve issues with the Chinese contractor in the under-construction Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa
- Did not use airport development fee for upgradating TIA
- Was unable to check rapid encroachment on its land in Bhaktapur from where Civil Aviation Academy operates