Graft slur on Bharatpur sub-metro chief

CHITWAN, July 12

Suspecting irregularity while purchasing land and vehicles, leaders from 10 political parties on Sunday submitted a memorandum demanding fair investigation at District Administration Office in Chitwan.

Dissident party leaders announced to boycott of each all-party meeting called by Executive Officer Narayan Prasad Sapkota. They said that they would also send the memorandum to the prime minister, Ministry for Local Development and Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority.

According to agitating leaders, Executive Officer Sapkota purchased a land cruiser and 15-bigaha land at Madhi municipality, Amiliya, for dumping site. The vehicle was bought for Rs 16.6 million.

The political mechanism at the municipality and political leaders slammed the executive officer for purchasing a car that cost around Rs 5 million and cheap land through bidding process. The leaders have accused Sapkota of purchasing and expensive car and land bypassing the leaders’ advice.

CDO Singh assured them a fair probe after circulating the memo to all the concerned offices. The sub-metropolis purchased the land for Rs 60,000 per kattha, while the normal rate of one kattha land is Rs 30,000 in Ameliya at present. The office had taken the land under its ownership 10 days ago, saying that it would save the forest. The owner said that he was paid just Rs 30,000 per kattha. Hence, stakeholders suspected that municipal officials and contractors might have shared the remaining amount. Department of Forest and then Bharatpur municipality had agreed to buy around 15 bigaha land belonging to Jaldevi Conservation Forest on July 28, 2011.

According to Sapkota, they had purchased land as they didn’t get land though they made public the notice three times.

Ramesh Mudwari of Madanpokhara, Palpa, had contacted the landowner. The land belonged to seven persons. Mudwari had taken consent of the land from owners while participating in the municipality’s tender for land.

According to Krishna Kumar Shrestha, one of the landowners, his five siblings had sold as much as 10 bigaha land to the sub-metropolis for Rs 30,000 per kattha. “As we came to know that the sub-metropolis paid Rs 60,000 per kattha, we tried to demand more amounts, but it went in vain,” said Shrestha.

After the incident came to light, the party representatives demanded withdrawal of the procurement process. Arun Pidit Bhandari, CPN-UML city representative, expressed his ignorance about the land procurement. “We are not against the land procurement but no irregularity is acceptable,” said Bhandari.

Meanwhile, Executive Officer Sapkota said the car and the land were purchased as per the decision of the municipal council and public procurement act. “The allegation is baseless,” argued Sapkota.