House panel deferred as Pokhrel, Thapa shun meeting

Kathmandu, March 5

The Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee, which was supposed to discuss alleged corruption in Nepali Army today, postponed its meeting after Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel and Chief of Army Staff General Purna Chandra Thapa did not attend the meeting.

Lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties expressed their reservation over Pokhrel and Thapa not attending the meeting and demanded the meeting be postponed. They were of the view that Pokhrel and Thapa dishonoured the ‘mini-parliament’. They also said discussion could not move ahead in the absence of the duo.

In the meeting, the army was represented by some senior officers, while the ministry was represented by one of the secretaries, said the committee’s member Dila Sangroula, who represents the main opposition Nepali Congress.

Following their demand, the committee’s Chair Shashi Shrestha postponed the meeting, directing the committee to compulsorily inform Pokhrel and Thapa to attend the next meeting to be convened soon, said the panel’s member Jhapat Rawal, who represents the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

The committee had invited Pokhrel and COAS Thapa to discuss complaints filed with the committee alleging irregularities during appointments, promotions, construction of barracks, and fast-track project construction. The committee has also received complaints accusing former CoAS Rajendra Chhetri of financial irregularities.

A sub-panel of the House committee had on February 13 recommended that the full

committee conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged wrongdoings by Chhetri during his tenure through the Commission for the Investigation

of Abuse of Authority and the Department of Money Laundering Investigation.

The sub-panel had been formed to conduct initial investigation into the complaints against Chhetri and others.

Chhetri had led Nepali Army from 10 September 2015 to 8 September 2018 when most of the reconstruction works were undertaken following the devastating earthquakes in 2015.

Apart from the misappropriation of funds during the reconstruction works undertaken by NA, Chhetri has also been accused of irregularities while awarding tender of Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track, purchasing helicopters, construction of army headquarters, Shashi

Bhawan (residential house of CoAS), military hospital, awarding ration contract and purchasing utility goods such as boots and clothes.