Next Cabinet meet to dwell on NOC chief’s fate

...alleged involvement of the chief of NOC in the land acquisition process has been proven through multiple sources

  • Minister for Supplies Shiva Kumar Mandal

Kathmandu, September 15

The Chief of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Bahadur Khadka, who has been embroiled in many controversies in the last two years, is likely to face the music this time for his alleged involvement in financial irregularities while purchasing land plots to set up storage facilities across the country.

Minister for Supplies Shiva Kumar Mandal is all set to table a proposal at the next Cabinet meeting to sack Khadka from the oil corporation’s top post.

Mandal is seeking dismissal of the chief of NOC on the basis of  evidences, which prove Khadka’s involvement in financial irregularities while acquiring plots of land meant for the development of petroleum storage infrastructure. Moreover, different parliamentary committees, including Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Commerce, Industry and Consumer Welfare Relations, had earlier directed the MoS to take action against Khadka and other government officials who have allegedly been involved in the land acquisition scam of NOC.

Earlier, the Good Governance and Monitoring Committee of the Parliament had also written a letter to the MoS directing it to relieve NOC MD Khadka of any duty till a probe into his alleged role in the land purchase scam had been completed.

Good Governance Committee Chair Mohan Singh Rathaur said the committee took a decision on September 10 to tell the line ministry to relieve Khadka of any duty till the probe was over. “Although the letter dispatched to the MoS contained the phrase ‘to relieve Khadka of any duty’, the intention was to suspend him during the probe to ensure that he does not tamper with the evidence and adversely impact the probe,” he added.

Under the supervision of Khadka, NOC was recently found to have purchased plots of land at a much higher cost than the prevalent market rates in Jhapa, Sarlahi, Chitwan and Rupandehi districts. In fact, NOC had paid up to four times more for plots in these areas as compared to the government valuation of the said plots.

Moreover, a recent parliamentary probe report had confirmed the alleged involvement of Khadka in the land acquisition process. The report had stated that not only did NOC purchase the plots at inflated rates but it also bought some plots that fell within the project area of the Mechi-Mahakali Railway Project. Moreover, some plots that NOC had bought were in close proximity to rivers, which make them unsuitable for building petroleum infrastructure.

“As alleged involvement of the chief of NOC in the land acquisition process has been proven through multiple sources, the MoS will not drag its feet to punish the wrongdoers. We will table a proposal to sack NOC chief and other guilty officials from their posts at the next Cabinet meeting,” Mandal told The Himalayan Times.