KATHMANDU, September 3: Supply Minister Shiva Kumar Mandal has said that his ministry will take action against Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) Executive Director Gopal Khadka regardless of any political pressure, once there is evidence at hand.
Stating that he has learnt that something is indeed amiss in NOC's land purchase deal, Mandal said that the parliamentary committee has written to the anti-graft body to probe the matter and the ministry itself has also been probing it.
Speaking at an interaction at the Reporters Club on Saturday, Mandal said he sensed wrongdoing in the land deal but has not taken any action as investigations are still underway.
“I hear something is amiss in the land purchase deal,” he said. “So the moment I receive the evidence in this regard I will take action regardless of any political pressure not to do so.”
Mandal expressed dissatisfaction with the top political leadership for remaining silent even in the face of the findings of the parliamentary committee and the media reports. Asked about Khadka's political connections, Mandal said he feels there is a problem with the political leadership.
“I learned that there is a problem with responsible leaders as they have not spoken about this issue. There used to be huge debate in parliament even over small issues. But now the responsible leaders are not speaking up about such a big issue which is directly connected with the people,” he said.
Lawmakers involved in probing the land purchase scam have said that they have been facing threats and pressure from various individuals. Asked if there was any pressure on him, the minister indirectly acknowledged this but said he wouldn't yield to any kind of pressure.
“Whoever pressures me will see in the coming days that once the evidence is there, Shiva Kumar Mandal doesn't fear pressure and it can't stop him from punishing the guilty,” he said.
Mandal reiterated that Khadka should be punished if he has done anything wrong. “You will see in future that I won't compromise in punishing the culprit,” said the minister.
He further said that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has not referenced its decision to the supply ministry. “I have not received any reference to the findings of the committee and the direction it has taken so far,” he said.
Mandal said he has not taken action against Khadka as the land purchase deal is being investigated by various parliamentary committees and the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority. He also claimed that he remained unaware of any corruption as the land purchase deal was struck before his appointment to the ministry.