Financial anomalies in drinking water project

Bajura, May 28

Irregularities amounting to millions of rupees was found in Bhedemul Drinking Water Project of Himali Rural Municipality, Bajura.

The estimated budget of the project was Rs one crore. However, irregularities amounting to Rs 27,08,663 was found.

Construction of the project started at the beginning of the current fiscal targeting 500 families in the locality. Except for some minor works, major construction work on the project is yet to begin. Construction has been left in a lurch due to lack of budget.

The office of Auditor General of Nepal inspected the project after construction work stopped. The office said Rs 27,08,663 was misappropriated and directed the rural municipality to pay the amount.

Karnali Self-employment Programme and Himali Rural Municipality had allocated Rs 93,23,183 for the project. The amount was made Rs one crore after adding five percent labour charge.

According to the auditor general, expenditure in bills and materials supply was bloated. It was found that bills worth Rs 22,62,000 were made by adding Rs 100 per kg in the supply of materials by mules and labourers. This was Rs 75 more than the actual cost. The auditor general added Rs 34,54,870 had to be released as per the bills, but Rs 38,88,773 was released.

Locals said Janga Bahadur Rawat and Shiva Lal Pandey had worked for the project though Karnali Self-employment Programme and the rural municipality had formed separate committees for the project. They suspect involvement of rural municipality representatives in corruption as they were silent about the anomalies.

Water source of the project is 14 kilometres away from the village. “The pipeline was laid, but water has yet to reach the village,” said Ammalal Sharki, a local. He said some locals have kept the construction materials saying the committee did not provide money for supplying the materials. “Neither did the workers receive wages nor did the villages get water,” he said.

Sharki said pipes  were laid throughout the10-km distance, but significant work was yet to done.

Treasurer Batakala Sharki of the consumers’ committee said installation of a water tank with capacity of 40,000 litres and four small tanks joining the pipes was left. “I don’t know about other financial matters,” she said. RM Chairman Govinda Bahadur Malla said probe into the irregularities would be launched.